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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.