Ontario gets e-police

Batman could have used IBM’s help.

Big Blue’s latest crime reporting application – Enterprise Case and Occurrence Processing System or eCops – wasn’t available to Gotham City’s caped crusader, but it is to Toronto’s Finest.

The Metropolitan Toronto Police Force has adopted IBM’s DB2 Universal Database as the platform for its current and future applications, along with the WebSphere Application Server and MQSeries, which provides the foundation for the eCops reporting software. eCops will support more than 7,000 users and will save the police an estimated $4 million in technology and labour costs annually. Moreover, DB2 will become the foundation for the police’s PeopleSoft human resource application.

“Our objective from a business processes perspective was to amalgamate three separate systems,” explained Insp. Mike Farrar of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force’s IT services department. “We had two legacy mainframes and one client/server system we wanted to amalgamate into one franchise-wide application…we wanted the functionality to take us from cruiser to court.”

Faster than you can say “Book ’em Dano,” Toronto’s police officers will be provided with an electronic method of processing missing persons reports, crime cases and occurrences, warrants and other criminal information. Data mining technology and extensive mapping and geocoding capabilities will aid police analysing trends and crime patterns for faster reaction times and more efficient utilization of resources.

“One acquisition key – outside of the scalability and functionality of the Universal Database – was the cost differential. We’ll save about $4.8 million of taxpayer’s money per year,” Farrar said.

“This whole effort was designed by police officers for police officers, our goal is to provide our front-line officers with as much information as possible.”

All this functionality also comes with a wireless solution via laptops and the added ability for officers to cross reference Toronto police data with international policing agencies.

“The Toronto Police decided to move to DB2 off the Oracle environment and they estimated it would save them around $4 million,” said Kim Fennell, IBM Canada’s business unit executive in Markham, Ont. “The application, eCops, allows their officers access to more information from their police cruisers…the same interface that appears in the cruisers is the same interface that appears in their offices and this will help save taxpayers money.”

Fennell said the tailor-made system was built from the ground up specifically for the T.O. Force’s needs. The initial implementation began about one year ago, and the roll-out is continuously evolving. She added the back-end infrastructure will help the police conduct more thorough searches of their criminal databases, enable better preparation for court dates and identify crime patterns. Thus, the police can make more informed decisions in the interest of public safety and in the interest of fiscal responsibility.

“From a database perspective, the scalability that DB2 offers is unlimited from the palm to the PC,” Fennell remarked. “We’re hoping to replicate this system (with other police forces) world-over.”

IDC Canada research director Kevin Restivo in Toronto said mobile computing and a major city’s police force go hand-in-hand.

“Moving and viewing data from a remote location is the way of the world,” he said. “We’re increasingly seeing these types of installations in a variety of industries…IBM is undoubtedly a leader in this market.”

Farrar added once the eCops system is fully deployed by mid-2002, the police will be able to analyse crime trends from the back-office and develop tactics and management policies in an effort to better serve the public.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have adopted a new ComputerAided Dispatch (CAD) system and a Records Management System (RMS) to aid their investigative efforts.

The OPP’s Western Region Headquarters in London, Ont., acquired the CAD system from Intergraph Public Safety Canada Ltd. and implemented it in the force’s three communication centres. Moreover, the RMS from Niche Technology Inc. was implemented throughout all OPP detachments in the region.

Frank Mazzilli, MPP for London-Fanshawe, took the time to praise his government’s Integrated Justice Project (IJP) which aims to transform public safety and justice. Mazzilli said both CAD and RMS were components of that vision.

The Intergraph CAD and Niche RMS are intuitive software products that provide streamlined, uniform methods of recording information. They are also programmed to conduct rapid, tailored searches within a database.

Both Niche and Intergraph are members of a technology consortium led by EDS Canada Inc., which is working with the Ontario government to implement the IJP.

The full roll-out of both systems within the northwestern Ontario region will be completed by June.

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