Tuesday, October 21, 2008

District of Columbia Arms Public Safety Officers With New Technology

Today District of Columbia Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, District Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Vivek Kundra, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Cathy L. Lanier, Fire Department Chief Dennis Rubin, and Office of Unified Communications (OUC) Director Janice Quintana announced the deployment of 1,006 mobile data computers to fire, emergency medical, and police officers in the field.

“Our public safety officers work hard to keep District residents safe,” said Mayor Fenty. “We’re always pursuing new methods to make their work more efficient and keep them in the field helping people, not in the office shuffling paper."

The deployment represents the latest step in MPD’s ongoing campaign to incorporate technology into its operation and to improve public safety. Law enforcement personnel are now equipped for the first time with mobile technology that will allow them to automatically generate electronic reports. This electronic reporting function will greatly improve the timeliness and accuracy of data.

Recently, MPD deployed 812 units mounted in police cruisers and assigned to specialized units. With the new laptops, police officers can perform real-time inquiries on wanted persons, drivers, stolen property, weapons and vehicles.

In the future, MPD and the District will issue hand-held personal digital assistants (PDAs) providing the same functions as the mobile laptops to officers on foot patrol, Segways, bicycles and motorcycles.

“This technology makes us more efficient. Our officers are able to spend more time patrolling our neighborhoods and communities,” said Chief Lanier.

OUC, which is responsible for 911 and 311 operations, is also responsible for the District’s radio division. The radio division provides system maintenance and support for the 9,000 radios across 18 agencies with primary users being MPD and the Fire Department. OUC will also provide system maintenance and support for the mobile data computers initiative. “Our goal is to ensure that the first responders for Fire, EMS and MPD have the latest and most reliable communication technology so they can respond quickly and safely to those in an emergency,” said OUC Director, Janice Quintana.

“Our new technology investments give us a common operating view of public safety in the District,” said CTO Kundra. “By arming our front line officers with technology, we’re ensuring that they have the information they need to protect residents anytime, anywhere.”

Fire Department
The District has deployed the remaining 194 mobile data computers to the Fire Department’s trucks and ambulances. With their new vehicle-mounted laptops, firefighters and ambulance will receive not only dispatch orders, but also maps from the District’s GIS system to direct them to the exact locations identified in 911 calls. In addition, the computers in command vehicles utilize GIS technology to map the location of fire hydrants, along with the most current data from the Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) about which hydrants are working PDAs, complete with maps, help firefighters and WASA crews manage the hydrant inspections.

In the future, the Fire Department computers will be equipped with additional software, including patient care data and floor maps of the locations of fire emergencies.

“When fire strikes or someone has a heart attack, there’s not a minute to spare,” said Fire Chief Rubin. “This technology brings even more resources to bear for our first responders, who help people every day in our city.”