War on Terrorism

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Public Safety Technology in the News

Editor's Note: Many of these technologies are being used for a homeland security and/or counterterrorism mission by a local, state or federal law enforcement agency.

Company Makes Cheaper Choice to GPS
Salt Lake Tribune, (01/12/08), Tom Harvey

There are times when a person may need to locate something or someone, for example, Alzheimer's patients, stolen vehicles, or interrupted 911 emergency phone calls. A Utah company, S5 Wireless, has built a wireless test network in
Salt Lake City to demonstrate a chip it developed that can track and locate almost anything the chip is placed in. The chip uses existing cell phone networks, which will reduce costs compared to current GPS systems and have a wider range than other wireless systems. Several factors make the chip unique. First is the low cost of $1 to manufacture, second is a battery life of about 2 years, and finally, the chip is traceable indoors and out. Since the tracking system piggybacks on cell phone networks, the chips can be located in about 2 seconds within a proximity of about 45 feet.

O’Malley Wants DNA Database Expanded
Washingtonpost.com, (01/11/08), John Wagner

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has presented a plan for the collection of
DNA samples from people arrested for violent crimes and burglaries. The plan would expand the State's current repository, which only includes samples from convicted offenders. The proposal will be considered during the Maryland General Assembly's 90 day legislative session. The program is modeled after a similar law in Virginia and would cost $1.7 million a year.

Law Enforcement Puts New Planning Technology to Use
La Crosse Tribune, (01/14/2008), Dan Springer

A new mapping program from Pictometry International Co. could have a positive effect on the public safety community. The software, now in use by La Crosse County (Wisconsin), will provide high-resolution images of any spot in the county. Unlike currently available services, such as GoogleEarth, Pictometry's images appear to be clearer, which provides viewers a much more detailed view of any area of interest. Plus, these images are taken from different angles, which allows users to obtain further detail. The images can also be used to obtain measurement data. The program has many opportunities for use by the La Crosse County Sheriff's Department, including search and rescue, standoff and hostage situations, and accident reconstruction.

Schools Incorporate Wi-Fi into Disaster-Response Plans
Wi-Fi Planet.com, (01/21/2008), Amy Mayer

Environmental and population concerns, along with transportation infrastructure, have contributed to the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District's request to become part of emergency planning and disaster response. Behind this proposal is the fact that the California school district is capable of offering
public safety organizations Wi-Fi network capabilities and could maintain this service using generators if the event of a power failure. Also, these services could be extended to citizens should schools have to used as temporary shelter. Those same Wi-Fi capabilities can be used by law enforcement during nonemergency times. Officers can have access to student databases and other information without taking their laptops into the school.

Online Cop Protects Helena Children
Helenair.com, (01/23/08), Angela Brandt

Grant funding from the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has allowed a Helena
Police Department detective to assume a role patrolling the Internet for those committing crimes against children. Det. Bryan Fischer is one of five detectives assuming this new role throughout the state of Montana. Since Fischer began in December 2007, seven cases are now under investigation. According to Fischer, some predators are quick to reveal their intentions, whereas others will take their time and foster a relationship before revealing their intent.

Wayland Police Get Night Vision
MetroWest Daily News, (01/20/08), Gabriel Leiner

Using funding from the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security's Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program (CEDAP), the Wayland (Massachusetts) Police Department will be acquiring the AN/PVS-14 Night Vision kit. The kit includes a monocular scope, a magnifying lens, a camera adapter, a portable mount, and head gear. The technology will be used in response to night burglaries and to monitor specific areas of town that are considered high priority. The equipment also allows the department to combine components in order to capture still photos or movies during surveillance, and then enhance the images for clarity using Video Detective, a piece of equipment purchased last year by the department.

LAPD Finds a Way to Connect
Los Angeles Times, (01/16/08), Richard Winton

In an area that is rich in cultural diversity, with 224 spoken languages, last summer the
Los Angeles Police Department introduced the Phraselator to assist officers in communicating with residents. The device derives its translations from preloaded police commands that were created with the assistance of officers who have some foreign language proficiency. Officers could use this device for natural disasters, crowd control, or medical emergencies. Officers simply speak a key term or phrase into the unit's microphone and select the correct phrase. The unit can broadcast the translated phrase using the patrol unit's speaker system. To ensure the message is intelligible, the speakers on the cruiser are designed to carry the sound about a half mile away without any distortion. The units are also capable of allowing police to ask questions and record responses that can be translated later. Originally the device was deployed for use by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Portland, Oregon
Police Improve Incident Tracking and Public Information Sharing Using ArcGIS
Directions Magazine, (01/22/08)

In an effort to assist officers and inform the public, the
Portland Police Department extended its crime mapping services. The department has enhanced records management to include spatial data relating to highway data to improve the tracking of events on major highways. For citizens, the public website has been updated in an effort to communicate crime data to the community. The Portland Police Department's Freeway Mapping Project uses ERSI's ArcGIS 9 software to capture and plot crime data on a city map. This information can then be used to more accurately track data, as well as provide better information to field officers and commanders. This same data is used to update the agency's public website once a month.

Delaware: Forensics Facility Helps Police
Daily Times, (01/23/08), Terri Sanginiti

The year-old Delaware State Police
Forensics Firearms Services Unit will help speed up the process of matching rounds to a firearm for crimes committed in Delaware. The new process can potentially make a match in hours, rather than months. Comparison is done between the newly retrieved rounds and those stored in a national database. When a match is made, it is then determined if both rounds came from the same firearm. This process can work to narrow the list of suspects, or it can help to eliminate suspects. The cost associated with getting this new unit up and running was roughly $400,000 for equipment such as an Integrated Ballistic Identification System, dual comparison microscope, and a bullet recovery system. www.delmarvanow.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080123/DW01/80123021/1058/DCP

York Secures $98,000 Grant for Traffic Enforcement
North Country Gazette, (01/24/08)

The Warren County (New York) Sheriff's Department will be receiving a $98,000 grant to allow for the purchase and installation of Traffic and
Criminal Software (TraCS) computers in 21 of the agency's cruisers. This award comes less than a month after the sheriff had been sworn into office, and will cost the taxpayers nothing. The system functions as an automated reporting program for law enforcement, designed to be more accurate and timelier and improve the collection and dissemination of incident data to be analyzed. Additionally, the system can produce electronic citations for patrol officers. Officials feel that TraCS will improve highway safety for both officers and civilians by reducing the amount of time spent issuing tickets or collecting accident report information.

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