January 23, 2023


New technology is improving situational awareness for police officers and other first responders by reducing response times and streamlining data sharing between agencies.

Advances in high technology may be necessary for first responders to keep up with the hiring of police, firefighters and EMTs. Nearly half (44%) of first respondents to the survey said they considered leaving their jobs because of work-related stressors.

noted Matt Polega, co-founder and head of external affairs at Mark43, which has developed a public safety software platform that allows agencies to more efficiently manage, share, collect and analyze information, first responders Becoming is not an easy task.

Solving such problems related to job stress and safety concerns is a common element that has prompted some high-tech companies to focus on the needs of workers patrolling the streets on the home front. Public safety technology is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Often it overlaps. Sometimes, it brings extreme innovation.

Technological Innovation for First Responders

TechNewsWorld recently went behind the scenes presenting an exclusive interview with the founder of Critical Response Group (CRG). That company adapted military concepts to map internal plans to law enforcement’s emergency response strategies.

In this article, we continue to discuss the role of technology in the efforts of software developers and hardware manufacturers to protect and assist agencies that provide public safety. One such company is Mark43, which has produced a range of software solutions that run on desktop and laptop computers as well as squad car-based computer terminals.

Mark43 communication platform enables real-time view on squad car screens

New technology such as the Mark43 communications platform enables real-time visuals on squad car screens, so responding units can be better informed about incident scenes before they arrive, improving their safety and efficiency it happens. (Image credit: Mark43)

The company’s Mark43 lineup of options is entirely cloud-based, which minimizes employee training because the applications run in a variety of web browsers. The result is a much less expensive, and technically easier upgrade path for a successfully high-tech, stress-free transition. The only new cost is the cloud-delivery subscription, which varies.

“Cloud Native is something Mark43 hangs its hat on. This means that our application is built to live in the cloud. Things that power the Cloud Power Mark43,” Polega told TechNewsworld.

storybook trappings

In Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” movie, the hero takes on his new battle suit called Mark 42. This was the forty-second version of the crime-fighting exoskeleton he had built. Polega and his two other co-founders — Scott Crouch (also CEO) and Florian Meyer (also vice president) — named their new company Mark43 in honor of their next-generation crimefighting gear.

The three met and began working together a decade ago, as juniors at Harvard University pursuing either mechanical or electrical engineering degrees. His assignment in a particular class was to work with a client on an engineering project.

Harvard was very interested in developing engineers who were focused not only on why heat exchangers work and how bridges bend. The focus was also on helping them understand that someday they would have to work together with people to solve their problems. They’ve been doing it ever since, Polega quipped.

That third-year class project involved much more than just kinetic operations and the detection of physically breakable structures. The job involved working with the Massachusetts State Police special operations team, which had spent time serving in a military capacity in the Middle East. This prompted the state police team to have a sigh moment. Domestically violent gang members behave like rebels in the Middle East.

Their dilemma was how to bring all-out counter-insurgency tactics from the battlefield to combating domestic gangs and gang violence. Polega & Co. tried to do the same. Actions include easing people into calling the police, cleaning up graffiti, or reducing open-air drug dealing.

“The state police was implementing this new policing model, and our job in this crazy engineering class was to assess whether or not this policing model was effective. Fast forward 10 years later, you find out that the engineering Three juniors with degrees who had no idea about policing or the complex socioeconomics,” Polega recalled.

He learned to do all those non-academic things and used engineering principles to overcome those obstacles. It was a much bigger project than the three aspiring engineers expected.

more than teachable moments

The project set out for three students to see that whatever software they were using was not the kind of witchcraft found on the TV shows NCIS, CSI, and any other that use “stage” technology. Were the choice of cool Hollywood TV shows. His professor gave him a goal – try to create something to help the state police in some way.

All three worked on it for the rest of their junior and senior years. After graduating in 2014, he went to the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department, where he faced a similar challenge. The police officers said: We really don’t know what you guys do, but we have some problems; And they said: We don’t really know what your problems are, but we can show you some of our solutions.

“We’re just starting to really understand all these analytical stuff and all these business intelligence tools. They were cool, and everybody wanted to make them, sell them, and get them into police agencies. But the real problem was the data. It was to collect and capture the information in a way that it could be used online for all the important things that police officers needed to do if that information went to court,” Polega explained.

The Mark43 platform provides first responders with a 3D aerial view on a patrol car video screen display.

The Mark43 platform provides first responders with a 3D aerial view of the patrol car video screen display that shows the target incident location and the status of responding patrol cars in a red diamond outline. (Image credit: Mark43)

His encounters with police departments and other first responder agencies further taught him the scope of performance for the arrest software he created. For example, when dispatched, police officers are required to write reports about anything they find in the field and the type of incident they respond to.

Those reports were to be completed and submitted back to headquarters from computer terminals. Doing this on a daily basis removed officers from the streets where they were no longer protecting and serving.

The burden of constantly generating reports for incidents, accidents, collisions and court records significantly reduced the manpower available to respond to calls for their many assigned shifts.

engineering a new solution

A dynamic trio of engineers solved that problem. Polega, Crouch and Mayer launched the company’s first product, a records management system, in August 2015 after completing their work for the Washington DC Police Department.

This was the precursor to the Mark 43 which he later developed. This older model of records management system handled the collection of on-duty arrest and traffic collision reports. Polega stated that this was a de facto operational system before the Mark 43 was fully designed.

Mark43 In-Vehicle Software

The result of three young engineers’ work with the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department was the development of in-vehicle software that integrates with computers at headquarters. (Image credit: Mark43)

“I hate to call it TurboTax for police reports. But it’s actually a very apt description,” Polega said. “When we left Washington, D.C., that agency’s arrest reporting time improved by 80% and crime reporting time by about 50%.”

Another highly anticipated result was that the department ultimately added 110 police officers back to the force, which equates to 240,000 person-hours back-to-back annually to the agency.

Current Technology, Turbocharged

If you’ve ever seen a modern emergency call center or watched TV police reality shows, you’re familiar with the command center with multiple dispatchers. Each one sits in front of several large screen monitors.

This high-tech concept is somewhat similar to what many large first responder organizations have in their regional dispatch centers. Smaller agencies operate scaled-down versions of that scenario.

Kevin Fry, director of solutions architecture at Mark43, demonstrated an online demonstration, showing patrol officers the power and ease of operation of the Mark43 system brought to their vehicles and into their call centers. Writing reports from dispatchers and accessing updated video data instantly is a significant game changer for first responders.

Mark43 Computer Aided Dispatch

Police dispatchers in a central communications center use a variety of large screen displays to monitor police and emergency response units in real time from miles away. (Image credit: Mark43)

During our Zoom call screen-share, Frye displayed reports, maps of the area, aerial views and more on multiple call center monitors, showing what dispatchers would see at their workstations and the officer’s view in the patrol car. Similar to using an automobile navigational app and multitasking, Fry showed how the Mark43 navigation worked with the Alt-Tab keys and the touch screen to change the screen display.

“I am [using] Modern browsers — Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari. So think about it from an end-user perspective, and not just a technical perspective, as long as you have your typical standard desktop, or even laptop, and you have access, you don’t have to go out and get a computer or No need to buy anything. for the Internet,” Frye told TechNewsWorld.

Other Mark43 Benefits

One of the key assets of this innovative communications platform, noted Frye, is its ability to put the mapping power in the hands of dispatchers. The system is capable of displaying multiple types of data layers. Responders to an emergency can see live views of traffic, accidents, active shooter locations, and even crime scene scenes along the way.

Mark43 Dispatcher Screen

Another display enables dispatchers to be in constant contact with first responders in real time and shepherds updated information quickly wherever it is needed. (Image credit: Mark43)

“This is cutting edge. No one else in the industry is doing this. A lot of public sector agencies rely on Esri for their mapping technology. We built Esri directly into our mapping technology,” Frey said.

Another advantage of Mark43 is its flexibility for information sharing. The system features a reliable workflow that lets officers automate report-writing tasks and enter information while on patrol. Many older products require additional data stitching when officers return to headquarters and attempt to integrate content written on patrol car mobile computers.

Often, data collection needs to change, added Frye, but in-car and in-station entry fields are not always compatible. Those two products won’t work very well together, especially if different vendors maintain them.

Generative AI is a category of artificial intelligence that uses algorithms to create things like literature, graphics, music, and language models.

Gen-AI has been burning up the news of late and promises to transform computing. ChatGPT is the current star of this category, but Google is putting up a challenge as ChatGPT scared them off. They are hardly alone.

While there is a lot of concern about this technology taking jobs away from humans, the jobs it will eliminate, at least initially, are jobs that people often don’t like to do.

Furthermore, it is part of the anticipated evolution of computers as glorified calculator work mates, and it changes vital dynamics. Instead of people having to learn how to work with computers, generative AI-based computers will increasingly learn how to work with humans.

Unless evolution reaches critical mass, when computers can perform fully as companions to humans – likely when they overtake us in evolution, machine speeds will exceed evolution by thousands of orders of magnitude. goes – we’ll need the AI ​​Whisperer skill. This is much like the need today of people who know how to work best with computers or learn boolean logic to work more efficiently with search engines.

Let’s talk about that development this week. Then we’ll close with our Product of the Week, a new mechanical keyboard I tried that just needs one more thing to perfect.

Connecting Gen-AI to Humans

Traditionally, a “whisperer” refers to someone who knows how best to work and communicate with an animal. They are knowledgeable who are able to get into the heads of the animals they work with and train animals that seem untrained.

They use verbal and non-verbal methods that make them seem like magic to onlookers and create a bond of trust with the animals that appears impossible to the owners, and the whisperer cements that bond at the end of the process. I can transfer owners.

True whisperers come naturally to their skills. They are wired differently than the rest of us, and like connoisseurs in other fields, I expect they often don’t relate well to people.

Unlike animals with abuse, health, or mental issues that generate humans’ fear, generative AIs will be relatively stable, although they will vary greatly depending on their programming.

However, understanding how to guide them towards a desired outcome will be no less difficult because, unlike animals, we will ask AIs to complete far more complex tasks than to sit, stay or come to us on command . We will ask AI to write scripts, articles and novels, create new products and execute military commands.

We also know that generative AI currently lacks empathy, although there are people who are working to not only fix this, but also use them to teach humans how to be empathetic. needed. As anyone who’s worked in IT already knows, the big problem with generative AI today is that users don’t know what they want, so they can’t very well issue requests that a generative AI can be effective at. can execute properly.

AI Whisperers will act as a bridge between the generative AI and the human user. The whisperer understands what the AI ​​needs to hear and can better translate what they want into commands that more efficiently direct the AI ​​to complete the task. Scale will immediately become a problem, because like animal whisperers, AI Whisperers will initially be rare and difficult to identify.

AI-Based Human Whispers

Just like we’ve built generative AI and trained it on materials to perform a wide variety of tasks, the hitch is that people just aren’t great communicators. As generative AI can advance at machine speed and will achieve stability over time, it is the human side of the problem that will require more work.

The final stage in the development of generative AI will be the creation of AI-based human whisperers. These AIs are explicitly trained to know what humans want. Their unique methods of communication, both verbal and non-verbal, can induce or manipulate humans to perform the essential act of fully thinking through their requests – often simulating feedback and responses to avoid mistakes. By providing historical perspective – to avoid mistakes that might otherwise have been made and increase the quality of the overall process.

Given that they can be trained through digital knowledge transfer, these human-whisper AIs can scale and will be able to bridge the gap between people and machines, eventually leading to true human-AI synergy. provide capability.

wrapping up

Generative AI is a game changer that will help eliminate repetitive tasks and even a lot of the grind when writing a long paper, article or book.

It would perform best as a human enhancement tool rather than a human replacement tool because its creativity is derivative and it lacks empathy, meaning it will do socially unacceptable things on purpose without oversight.

Those who do best with this technology will be the ones who initially adopted and learned from it, much like those who first adopted and learned mainframes, PCs, and Boolean logic.

We must see AI whisperers initially emerge as a bridge between these AIs and humans who have not yet learned how to think and properly articulate their requests.

Eventually, they will be replaced by AI-powered human whisperers, allowing technology to advance more quickly and tackle the associated communication problems on a larger scale.

Computers are about to become a lot more social; We are not ready for this at all.

tech product of the week

Das Keyboard 6 Professional

Das Keyboard 6 Professional

Image credit: Das Keyboard

If you write a lot, as I do, there’s nothing like a great keyboard. For me, a mechanical keyboard is far better than the cheap, chiclet-style keyboards on most laptops and desktop PCs.

I like the long key throw, solid touch, and the fact that mechanical keyboards tend to last longer than their cheaper-made counterparts.

The Das Keyboard 6 is more suited to writers and computer programmers than professional gamers. Still, it’ll be a good gaming keyboard, provided it’s mechanically ergonomic, and you can control your PC’s volume with the convenient volume knob on the device itself. However, there are better boards out there for gaming that look more luxurious.

This keyboard is for office, home or work. It has lighted keys (with an on-off switch) that work at night as well as all media controls.

Many of us like to listen to music or podcasts while we work, and the ability to manage that content with dedicated keys is tremendously helpful. You can also press the volume control to mute the speaker, but there’s one feature missing: a mute microphone button for video calls, which those of us working from home desperately need.

The Das Keyboard 6 Pro has a convenient sleep button if you don’t have user sensing (a feature that suspends your PC when you walk away), making it a great way to reassure your kids or co-workers Is. Don’t mess with your stuff if you leave your desk.

I found the keys a little sticky at first, but that cleared up within the first 15 minutes, and it’s now the keyboard I use for most of my work. I wish it had a microphone mute button.

It comes in two versions: one with soft switches and one that I found is a bit more clicky. I prefer the clicky version, but if you’re in an office, your co-workers may prefer you to the quieter one.

A good keyboard helps with productivity, reduces mistakes and hand strain, and creates a more enjoyable work experience. Accordingly, the Das Keyboard 6 Professional, which retails for $199, is my product of the week.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.