Content Management Cracks The Case
A federal grant afforded West Des Moines' (IA) police department a comprehensive content management system, but making it work required the integration, wireless, and digital photography expertise of a solution provider.
Ted Kruzan, president of imaging integrator IMAGETek, Inc. (Des Moines, IA), spends a lot of time at the courthouse. That's because more than half of his company's business involves county government clients, including law enforcement. Regular visits to the West Des Moines, IA, courthouse were the starting point for a comprehensive content management solution for that municipality's police force.
The West Des Moines Police Department was concerned that time spent managing the volume of paperwork was reducing time that officers could be out on the streets. When officers filed their CIRs (criminal incident reports), clerks had to manually enter the data from those documents into CRIMES, a specialized law enforcement records management system from HTE, Inc. In addition, the documents had to be copied numerous times so investigators and court employees could perform their jobs. Archived records were maintained on microfilm, which became increasingly inefficient due to aging hardware.
Like many organizations, the department knew it had a need for document imaging, but it didn't necessarily have the budget or the in-house expertise. The department applied for and received a federal COPS MORE (Community Oriented Policing Services Making Officer Redeployment Effective) grant. "We assembled a group of end users from throughout the department and came up with 15 requirements for an acceptable document management system," says Lt. Cam Coppess of the department's support services division. These requirements included browser-based access, the ability to view a wide array of file formats, and flexible retrieval and viewing options.
"We had been calling on the department routinely for some time," says Kruzan. "When this project came up, we got in on the ground floor and were able to help the department write the RFP [request for proposal]." Kruzan believes IMAGETek was chosen over six competing vendors based on its experience with similar installations and an ability to meet the specified requirements at a competitive price. However, he also believes offering local service and support was another key factor in obtaining the contract.
Bulletproof Web Access For Remote And Local Users
IMAGETek designed a content management system centered around the Xtender product line from LEGATO Systems, Inc. (Mountain View, CA). CIRs, booking reports, and other documents are scanned using a Bell & Howell FB-series scanner or a Fujitsu fi-4120C. Images are captured using eCapture software from Captovation Inc. The data is then managed by LEGATO's ApplicationXtender (AX) software, which captures, organizes, and provides access to data of various formats. Indexing information is entered manually, but retrieval is also aided by the optional full-text OCR (optical character recognition) module of AX. The police department also purchased 25 licenses for LEGATO's WebXtender, which provides authorized users with access to the data repository via the Web. The solution also uses DiskXtender to create a virtual data pool, making it appear to end users as if data from multiple physical locations is in a single repository.
Following the October 2002 installation of AX, the police department began scanning about four years' worth of existing files as officers were trained on the new system. Since the system was extended to incoming records in January 2003, the officer in charge completes the indexing, routes the reports to the appropriate divisions (e.g. juvenile or criminal), and assigns priorities. IMAGETek provided consultation and services to create an automated workflow that meets the department's requirements and to re-engineer inefficient practices.
Scanning documents not only simplifies the data processing, it also allows documents to be centralized and cross-referenced, making a search for information quicker and more thorough. For example, an officer files a field interrogation report about a conversation with an individual who may not have been committing any crime. When a burglary happens in that vicinity and that person is suspected, he/she can be placed near the scene.
When the system goes into full production later this year, it will be extended to authorized city workers as well. By sharing information between the city and the police department, officials will be better able to monitor public safety. If an incident occurs at a certain home, for instance, the police might be able to access information about the property based on building permits.
Investigating Integration, Wireless Access Opportunities
While the initial goal is to create a centralized repository for police reports, IMAGETek has been contracted to provide integration services that will expand its use far beyond the West Des Moines courthouse. IMAGETek is image-enabling CRIMES, which resides on an AS/400, by integrating it with AX. Hyperlinks will provide access to supporting documents from within the CRIMES record.
By June 2003, the interface between AX and TraCS (Traffic and Criminal Software) will also be completed. Developed by the Iowa Department of Transportation to share data about criminal activity, TraCS is designed for use with mobile computers. Using this software, electronic citations can be transmitted to the court system. Officers will use ruggedized laptops in patrol cars to access the system. "Integrating with a Web client [WebXtender] in a wireless environment has probably been one of the biggest challenges," says Kruzan.
Another project underway is crime mapping. Integration with an Arc GIS (geographic information system) from ERSI will allow officers to pinpoint where crimes occurred in their neighborhoods. "We want to link that GIS back to the imaging system so when an office queries an incident, he or she gets an incident number and a hyperlink into the records management system," says Lt. Coppess. "At some point, this will move into a CAP [crime analysis program] which will display where suspects live or have been spotted in relation to various crime scenes."
Examine Digital Photography Clues
IMAGETek is also working on integrating digital photography into the system. Snapshots can be pulled from footage taken with a Sony digital video camera. Adding these digital mug shots to the file will allow for capture of identifying features such as tattoos or scars, as well as mannerisms. Partnering with IT/X (Cedar Rapids, IA), which has developed a virtual lineup software application, IMAGETek plans to allow officers to pull together groups of possible suspects based on predetermined criteria.
To incorporate digital photography into its content management solution, IMAGETek had to research the ANSI/NIST (American National Standards Institute/National Institute of Standards and Technology) guidelines. Because of the sensitivity and potential value of these photos, IMAGETek had to assure the police department and court system that the images would maintain the quality and industry standards to be admissible as evidence. To protect the integrity of the images, they are stored on optical WORM (write once, read many) media.
While the specific needs of law enforcement may be fairly specialized, the technology used to solve those problems is applicable to other customers as well. "A significant amount of our business is commercial," says Kruzan. "We find that those customers' needs aren't much different from law enforcement or government." End users are looking to VARs to protect them from being overwhelmed by data management and to serve up secure access to the people who need it.