Many police departments use analytics to hold their officers accountable and save fuel costs, as I mentioned in a blog post in May. One example I've come across recently is the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office; it's a huge proponent of field analytics.
A majority of the 220 vehicles in its fleet are equipped with automatic vehicle location (AVL) sensors, and supervisors mix geographic, speed, and computer-aided dispatch data to make smart decisions. For instance, when a call comes in, the dispatch desk consults a map showing all available vehicles and sends the one closest to the incident. Capt. David Baisden told us the ability to make split-second decisions conserves fuel.
Tracking units also helps the department identify crime hotspots. Officers can pinpoint not only neighborhoods, but also likely times for crimes. Targeting patrols using analytics prevents a waste of man-hours.
Baisden said previous AVL software was slow and cumbersome, taking up to 45 minutes to update all the recorded data. However, the department's new package from US Fleet Tracking updates in less than 10 seconds, allowing supervisors to be far more dependent on the data.
The faster transmission times enable supervisors to impact events in real-time. If an officer passes a threshold speed of 85mph, that officer's commander receives a text. If the vehicle hits 100mph, the sheriff gets an alert. The goal is to make officers accountable whenever they accelerate. This keeps them safer -- supervisors can send backup if needed -- and keeps fuel costs in check, because maintaining optimal speed eats up less gas.
Supervisors also receive notices if officers leave their jurisdiction. The boundary crossing often is warranted. For example, the officers might be transporting someone to a different county. If it is not, supervisors have evidence to reprimand units for leaving assigned posts.
The AVL package serves an integral role in the department's growing involvement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) effort. That project, a joint effort with the Department of Justice, uses analytics to reduce crime, crashes, and traffic violations nationwide.
Oklahoma County says pairing geolocation and vehicle sensor information with dispatch systems, records management systems, and the jail management system will provide a cohesive look at all incidents. Baisden calls the introduction of GIS into the AVL package a boost, because all incident addresses are mapped to specific longitude/latitude pinpoints.
Initially, Baisden said, the business case for AVL was an accurate representation of the vehicles, but as the technology has matured with GIS-based data and other enhancements, the analytics generated has sparked further cost-saving and life-saving efforts.
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