With an abundance of aging technology from the 1980s, Montreal’s police force was finding it increasingly difficult to effectively use IT as part of its efforts to fight crime. The outfit was looking for something to help improve its officers’ response times, performance, radio coverage and to make more sense of the information they were receiving.
“We could not update the technical side of [the old] system. We were looking for data compression, encryption [and] a very secure network,” said André Bernard, systems administrator for the Montreal Police Service.
The answer, Bernard hopes, has arrived in the form of an infrastructure that will give the city’s 4,000 police officers the ability to receive emergency information through a secure public wireless connection. The solution used to accomplish this task was IBM’s WebSphere Everyplace Connection Manager (WECM). It interfaces with the Montreal police’s new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system and a public cellular network.
According to John Donaldson, brand manager of WebSphere for IBM Canada in Markham, Ont., WECM helped boost the productivity of Montreal’s police officers.
“It keeps a connection between the server and all of the [officers] in [their patrol] cars. It ensures the communication to the cars are constant and equips the police officer with better access to information and reliably 24/7,” Donaldson said.
In the past, it was the difficulty in getting officers crucial information that prompted Bernard to seek a better solution. The old system, he said, was getting to be overloaded and only provided text information for 911 emergency calls. It would take about a minute to send these emergency calls during peak periods.
“It was faster to use a radio voice system than the data system,” said Bernard. Now, with WECM interfacing with CAD and the cellular network, this information can be sent in three seconds. This is done through compression of the information and other network optimizations that enable the user to gain access to information more quickly and at a lower cost because it uses the public network.
The WECM solution runs on IBM’s pSeries servers. It goes out to different applications with whatever information the police officer is looking to gain access to. The server would direct a request to a specific database and pull information from it.
All of this activity is secured in two ways, said Donaldson. One is through authentication that ensures the user has authorized access. The second is through advanced encryption service (AES), which is the highest level of security available in a non-military environment.
Bernard is also looking at using the WECM to send certain information to officers that the old system could not. He listed the ability to send pictures of missing persons or criminals as an example. As well, since the IBM solution can be built upon, Bernard wants to send other tools to officers such as electronic tickets, driver license pictures, the ability to carry out in-car event reports, as well as the ability to send street maps, crime histories of patrol areas and procedures to be carried out during natural disasters.