I’ve had a bunch of highly interesting conversations with vendors yesterday and today at the 35th Annual IACP Law Enforcement Information Management Training Conference & Exposition. For example, I’m starting to have a look at some of the technologies out there to clean up the document nightmare that exists between paper forms, records management system entries, computer aided dispatch and other verbiage that we, as coppers, produce.
I had conversations with vendors and smart people in the document management field; first, I spoke with Ed from PRI Management Group. Ed is a police lieutenant who, as a sergeant, was assigned to records and found the systems in place to be wanting. So over the course of a couple of years he made himself expert in the available systems out there. This knowledge he’s turned into a side business, and since we think very much alike, it’s likely that he, Dave and I will be collaborating on some things in the futrure. I highly recommend going over to his site http://policerecordsmanagement.com and checking out the articles he has online. The very first one I looked at, Are your crime stats accurate?, tells me that we’re thinking along the same lines: it’s objective, it’s helpful and it’s not pay-for-play.
Next I spoke with the people at Laserfiche, which is a document management company. By that I mean that they specialize in taking the printed output of all your disparate systems including CAD, RMS and GIS, placing them within a single digital bucket, and allowing you to classify, sort, search, store, print, and aggregate (if not correlate). We spent about half an hour going through various features, then comparing and contrasting Laserfiche’s offerings to some of its larger competitors – OpenText, Hyland Software’s OnBase, and products from giants such as Documentum from EMC and the IBM FileNet Content Manager.
Not mentioned in that list is PreSynct, a forms and document management system. On PreSynct, we went through the nightmare of crash reports and other forms very easily. They sell to about 25 agencies (it began as a custom job for a Sheriff’s office) and seem like a great solution for smaller agencies. They have a service-model as well as perpetual-model license, so small agencies can get their forms and content management from as little as $25 a month.
If you’ve seen WatchGuard Digital In-Car Video you probably wanted to know more about it; I know I did when I noticed the colors and patterns of a moth flying between the patrol car and the stopped vehicle on one of their sample high-definition dash-cam videos that have been looping during the show. This was awesome, but as I started talking to their (retired law enforcement) sales guy, and as we were interrupted at least twice by customers stopping by the booth to say that they really liked the product I found myself in a classic cop position: I coveted another agency’s dash-cam video. Part of the reason I like it is that it addresses each of our rules of selling technology to cops: it is simple (the interface is absolutely trivial to learn); it integrates (with everything in the car, in ways I will discuss when I write more about this later) and it has great utility (just the ability to go back six hours and hit record on something you didn’t record at the time is enough to sell me on it; WatchGuard claims its hard drive can buffer up to forty hours of video. Even if I put a 50% vendor bullshit factor in there, that’s pretty astoundingly good – how often do you think your agency would like to go back even three hours to watch video that otherwise hadn’t been recorded?.
My conversations with Feeling Software have been among the most exciting I have had with a technology vendor in some years. Feeling Software (isn’t that a terrible name?) allows agencies to control wide ranges of disparate technologies in their jurisdictions, including management of city-owned and privately-owned video cameras and PTZ cameras, gunshot location systems, automated license plate readers and other devices, including in-building access controls like doors, gates and the like. They are self-funded, passionate and their products really impressed me. I hope to be writing a lot more about them soon.
I finally broke down and got me a LEO.gov account, which gives me some very cool things including, and I didn’t know about this (okay, it’s possible I’m the last one to know about it), the ability to create a special interest group (SIG) and use the LEO.gov platform to send messages to everyone in the SIG. This is a free service that could prove useful to agencies looking for an easy and free way to send messages to large groups. Of course, there are lots of commercial companies doing it in a more comprehensive manner, but it’s good to know that LEO is offering this and other cool services.
More tomorrow about other companies I spoke with here at LEIM.