Mobile Systems Put Public Safety on Fast Track

Mobile Systems Put Public Safety on Fast Track<@VM>Integrators Chase Breakthrough Wireless Project

Dave Zolet

Skip Funk

Dana Hall

Joe Riggione

City and county officials throughout the nation are moving rapidly to adopt wireless and Internet technologies that enable police departments and public safety organizations to access and share information anywhere at any time.

Bolstered by strong political support and generous funding, public safety programs comprise one of the hottest information technology markets in the state and local government sector.

Traditionally known for stand-alone systems, such as computer-aided dispatch, records management and automated fingerprint identification systems, the public safety market is now experiencing an increasing demand for mobile systems and for integration of systems that will allow data sharing across a wide spectrum of jurisdictions and government agencies.

"We are seeing a huge demand in mobile products," said Dell King, director of the public safety and justice group for HTE Inc. of Lake Wales, Fla., a company whose products address wireless computing requirements of governments.

In this area, governments are deploying integrated radios, laptops, handheld devices and mobile computers, said Meredith Luttner, manager of state and local database services for market research firm Input Inc. of Chantilly, Va.

Industry analysts and officials also said cities and counties are seeking integrated information systems that link law enforcement agencies with corrections, courts and transportation departments, as well as with national law enforcement agencies.

Improving data sharing has been "an age-old problem" for the industry, said Joe Riggione, director of the North America justice and public safety practice for Unisys Corp. He said the Blue Bell, Pa.-based company expects to see a major push in the next 10 years to re-engineer systems to facilitate the sharing of data.

But the walls separating public safety and justice organizations are coming down quickly, said Mike Lyons, vice president and general manager at Printrak Inc., an Anaheim, Calif., company that provides integrated identification and information systems for those two markets.

"There is no reason systems can't talk to each other," he said.

At its core, public safety is largely a local government opportunity for a tight-knit group of technology companies that work with local law enforcement agencies, and it has always been a priority area of the government IT marketplace, said Rishi Sood, principal analyst at Gartner Dataquest, Stamford Conn.

Public safety is the fourth largest sector in state and local government, after administration and finance, human services and transportation, according to Gartner Dataquest. The market research company expects IT spending for public safety to increase at an average annual rate of 7 percent from $6.72 billion in 2001 to $8.77 billion in 2005.

About 10 percent of state and local spending each year is related to public safety, according to Input.

Among the leaders in the public safety and law enforcement markets are IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y.; PRC Public Sector Inc., McLean, Va. (now a unit of Northrop Grumman Corp., Los Angeles); Printrak; Science Applications International Corp., San Diego; TRW Corp., Cleveland; and Unisys.

Dave Zolet, vice president and general manager of TRW's civil systems program division, said his company expects a continuing demand for the upgrade and modernization of statewide radio networks, a resurgence in the demand for data systems, and a growing trend toward convergent communications among agencies involved in public safety and law enforcement.

"From our perspective, [public safety] is a very significant growth market," he said.

TRW is looking at opportunities for telecommunications outsourcing in Georgia and West Virginia that traditionally are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Zolet said.

There also are a lot of contracts for statewide radio communications networks percolating throughout the country in states such as California, Nebraska, New York and Virginia, Zolet said.

TRW's key projects in the public safety market include a $271 million multiagency radio communications project in Ohio; a $59 million emergency public safety radio system in Montgomery County, Md.; a $3.2 million dispatch and emergency operations center in Austin, Texas; and an emergency communications system for the Los Angeles Police Department. TRW did not provide the value of the LAPD contract.

While TRW tackles large-scale communications projects at all levels of government, Unisys focuses on several key niches of safety and justice, such as state law enforcement, corrections and courts.

The company prides itself on an enterprisewide approach to safety and justice, Riggione said. When the company develops a system, it makes sure the customer can transfer or integrate the system with new or existing systems, he said.

Unisys has safety and justice projects in about 15 states, Riggione said. The annual revenue for Unisys' justice and public safety practice is approaching $100 million and will surpass that mark by 2003 or 2004, he said. The practice had a 40 percent increase in fiscal 2001, he said.

Unisys is re-engineering and integrating various systems in Miami in a project worth about $1 million, he said. The company's resume includes law enforcement projects in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

As for new opportunities, Unisys bid earlier this month on the Capital Wireless Integrated Network project, known as CapWIN, which would improve communications and emergency response among jurisdictions in the Washington metropolitan area, Riggione said.

Like Unisys, Printrak also takes an enterprise view toward public safety and law enforcement, Lyons said. The company, which was purchased by Motorola Inc. of Schaumberg, Ill., last November, has about 65 CAD customers and about 800 AFIS and photo-imaging customers, Lyons said. Printrak is looking at new CAD opportunities in Los Angeles and New York that are worth between $10 million and $20 million each, he said.

Printrak's enterprise approach is evident in a $8.5 million contract it has with Oakland County, Mich. Under the contract, Printrak has provided CAD, RMS and mobile computing applications to a consortium of local agencies in the region and is looking to expand the project to include criminal justice applications, Lyons said.

Before the acquisition, Printrak had annual sales of about $110 million, and the company expects to grow its business at a rate of about 30 percent to 40 percent following the acquisition, Lyons said.

IBM's work in safety and justice parallels Unisys' in many ways. IBM provides hardware, software and services for public safety and law enforcement to agencies at all levels of government, said Kent Blossom, national practice executive at IBM's public safety and justice unit.

IBM is known throughout the industry for having strong partners in various sectors of the state and local market, and this holds true for the safety and justice sectors. Some of IBM's partners for these projects include HTE; New World Systems Corp., Troy, Mich.; Tiburon Inc., Fremont, Calif.; and Templar Corp., Alexandria, Va., Blossom said.

Many of IBM's partners have strong positions in the safety and justice markets themselves. HTE, for example, specializes in CAD, RMS and mobile and wireless applications and has about 450 local government customers, King said. As the CAD provider for Alexandria, Va., the company is assured a role in CapWIN, he said.

Key Public Safety and Law Enforcement Systems

Computer-Aided Dispatch Systems
    A resource management tool for dispatching and tracking
    personnel and equipment responding to a disaster or emergency.

Record Management System

    A database that collects, stores and provides access to information about individuals and incidents.

Automated Fingerprint Identification System

    A database that stores fingerprints associated with a particular region to confirm identity and determine whether a suspect has been involved in an unsolved crime.

IBM is about midway through a 10-year, multimillion-dollar project to Web-enable the systems for the Toronto Police Service, Blossom said. The company also is working with the New York State Division of Parole to enable parole officers to use personal digital assistants in the field. IBM has also bid on the CapWIN project, Blossom said.

TRW and Printrak often compete for local government public safety contracts with PRC Public Sector Inc.

PRC's customer base includes some of the largest cities in the United States and Canada, including Boston, Chicago, Houston, Norfolk, Va., Philadelphia and Toronto, said G.A. "Skip" Funk, president of PRC Public Sector. The company has 130 customers in North America and averages about $50 million in annual revenue from its public safety business, he said.

Each year, PRC might bid on as many as 25 or 30 new contracts, he said. These bids occasionally include long-term customers that want new bids for additional work. The company is looking at opportunities for modernization work in Houston, Montreal, New York and Philadelphia.

As the pace of integration picks up, SAIC is one company moving to take on a greater role in state and local law enforcement. In the last decade, the company has migrated its law enforcement work with the FBI to the state government market, said Dana Hall, SAIC group senior vice president.

In Florida, SAIC will build an integrated criminal history system for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that will replace the state's computerized criminal history and AFIS systems.

The first phase of the 10-month, $1.2 million project is for systems analysis and design. The second phase, which will be awarded in February 2002, may be worth as much as $10 million, Hall said.

The company is also working on an integrated criminal justice system in Kentucky worth $4 million to $5 million, he said.

SAIC generally prefers to handle the replacement of legacy systems and the integration of systems rather than the planning for these project, Hall said.

"You'll seldom find SAIC on the front end," he said. "We want to be the systems integrator rather than the planner."

SAIC's law enforcement work shows how the market is branching out to include other sectors, such as justice and transportation. Indeed, public safety business is becoming in-creasingly intertwined with transportation, said Unisys' Riggione, who noted that major cities and large counties already are using new technologies to enforce motor vehicle laws.

"I can see those kinds of technologies becoming the CAD of the future," said Riggione.A number of top integrators are vying for the chance to build an integrated wireless mobile data communications network in the nation's capital that will serve as a model for subsequent projects around the country.

The Capital Wireless Integrated Network will be a three-year project with options for three more years, and may be worth between $40 million and $50 million, industry officials said.

The project is thought to be the first of many where public safety and transportation agencies and departments pool their resources for more efficient operations.

CapWIN will integrate transportation and public safety data and voice services among state police, state highway departments and local fire and rescue services in the Washington metropolitan area.

IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y., and Unisys Corp. of Blue Bell, Pa., have both bid as primes on the project. TRW Corp. of Cleveland declined to disclose whether it has bid on the contract.

The contract is being managed by the University of Maryland. No date has been set for the award, according to university officials.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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