Integrators Extend the Arm of the Law

Public safety is becoming a hot market for integrators as governments seek better, less costly ways to protect their citizens

The public safety sector is offering no shortage of new integration opportunities as more state and local governments hurry to adopt new technologies that better protect their citizens at less cost.

In New York City, traffic law violators are being photographed by cameras placed at intersections and coordinated using special software technology.

The new "red light" system technology is building on a set of core integration competencies now being established within the public safety arena by Electronic Data Systems Corp., Plano, Texas, according to Joe Riggione, EDS' director of marketing for Public Safety and Criminal Justice.

"In three to five years, we will move from the peripheral end to the mainstream," said EDS' Riggione. For EDS, this means moving from the fringe market, where it had proven itself in areas of traffic safety, to the courtroom, where EDS capitalized on the flow and concentration of information that now pile courtrooms and pack briefcases.

EDS isn't alone. Other integrators are also taking a stab at the public safety sector.

"We are looking at integrating [the judicial systems] and bringing technology to assist agencies,'' said Ken Bien, director of public safety and justice at the Sacramento office of Andersen Consulting. "The focus will be on integrating people who use technology on a day-to-day basis inside the public safety sector into a single database," said Bien.

Andersen earned its public service stripes by winning contracts to supply integration services to police departments in California, Dade County, Fla., Miami and Phoenix. The company is now gearing up to integrate systems that are specially tailored to manage the paper flow process of different states' judicial systems.

"We want to tear down the walls to share information across all departments from the courtroom to the corrections area to the police squad car," said Bien. As a consultant to the California Highway Patrol, Andersen Consulting has been scrapping services that had become outdated.

Until recently, calls for service to the CHP communication centers were handled via manual systems using color-coded cards and conveyor belts. The new systems facilitate the rapid dispatch of police, fire, medical, town and other emergency services with greater speed and reliability by linking the new dispatch system with workstations.

Meanwhile, Texas is busy answering its own "service to the citizen" demands with the roll out of an automated driver's license program in more than 240 counties. The time it takes to get a license in Texas has now been reduced from 30 days to about a week, Texas officials said.

Slated for completion in August, the Registration and Title System has improved service to the motoring public by providing an automated point-of-sale system that is now linked to the Texas Department of Transportation and the Tax Assessor-Collectors office in each county. "Luckily, we have a large staff ? between 300 and 400 people ? in the Texas Department of Information Resource who can do the integrating," said Susan Tennison, a systems analyst in the IR department. "Most large agencies at the state levels can do this. We worked with IBM when we had specific tasks like upgrading software for the Department of Transportation."

RTS is expected to garner $600 million in motor vehicle fees and more than $1 billion in vehicle sales tax, as well as $40 million in title application fees, according to Tennison. Analysts are also basking in the prospect of potential net savings of $1.36 million per year. Such glowing figures have gone over well with public officials and consultants, Tennison said.

Texas has also spearheaded efforts to increase public safety by revoking licenses of intoxicated drivers at the site of the incident. ??Before, court procedures dragged on. It might even take up to six months before you could take their license," said Phil Barrett, agency planning manager for the Texas Department of Information Resource.

Texas is working on a project that will house digital images of pictures, thumb prints and signatures. "The images are useful for accurate records and for cases of missing persons,'' said Barrett. The IR department expects the project to be completed by 2000.

Larger agencies under a time crunch usually turn to contractors, said Tennison. IBM Corp. was selected in July 1994 and has been involved since the RTS program was first implemented. In the case of RTS, IBM worked with a highly trained technical staff that could do all the integrating on its own. "IBM was very involved in providing overall management to help Texas' Department of Transportation meet its schedule by providing planning and strategic support," said Sam Kelley, principal in consulting and systems integration for IBM in Austin, Texas.

Looking ahead, Kelley said opportunities are bountiful in the areas of integrating the justice system. "We want to automate the work flow by sharing information between the court, the sheriff's office, the jail and the medical examiner," said Kelley.

Meghan Cotter, senior analyst with G2 Research Inc., Mountain View, Calif., said work flow management systems have quickly become a priority for many state and local governments. "Records management systems have become increasingly sophisticated as they must be able to provide information to the field through mobile data terminals," said Cotter.

Spending on record management integration will reach $228 million in 1996, said Cotter. Such systems are used to store, index, update and retrieve different types of records. Five-year forecasts estimate spending in the record management application area to advance at an average annual growth rate of 18 percent, with expenditures of $658 million by 2000, Cotter said.

Meanwhile, back in New York City, EDS is busy ensuring that the city government computer systems have a safety net. The integrator has configured a system that would provide a backup if one burrough's system went down. "We do everything. As the integrator, there is no question of accountability because we do the integrating, as well as the servicing in software and hardware. That way there is no finger-pointing among city departments," EDS' Riggione said.

"We're able to offer solutions that are more than the sum of hardware and software for a particular size of population," said Riggione referring to computer-automated dispatch systems for police officers.

Similar EDS projects in Springfield, Mass., and Charlotte, N.C., proved to be effective in slashing response time on police dispatches to 911 calls. Detailed information, which includes the number of officers in a particular area and the history of disturbances of certain locations, have boosted police moral and awareness before entering potentially dangerous situations, Riggione said.

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