February 23rd, 2018

Smart Squad app making police more efficient


By Schnarr, J.W. on February 5, 2018.

J.W. Schnarr

Lethbridge Herald

jwschnarr@lethbridgeherald.com

A new app is having a big impact on management and efficiencies for frontline Lethbridge Police Service members.

Smart Squad is described as “the frontline officer’s mobile app” and is a data management tool currently in its pilot stages with LPS.

At the regular meeting of the Lethbridge Police Commission on Wednesday, Chief Rob Davis said the new app has had a big impact on police work.

“We’ve rolled this out on the front lines to 11 members per team,” he said. “This thing has taken on a life of its own. We’re finding efficiencies we never even dreamed of since we rolled it out.”

Smart Squad was developed by Alberta-based Faction Four Systems, Inc.

Features include the ability to search records, including people, locations, vehicles, businesses, and occurrences location awareness, including the ability to let officers know what is happening around them; e-ticketing, allowing officers to quickly and securely enter traffic citations for increased organizational efficiencies; targeted intelligence, allowing for access to analyst-generated intelligence in real time; an officer notebook, allowing for secure documentation of crime, collisions, and other incidents, with direct integration into records management systems; and task management, allowing for better effectiveness when deploying officers.

“We are really leading the edge of policing in Alberta with this technology and how we’re using it,” Davis said. “It is translating into time savings, which really equates to money savings, and the need for extra bodies is diminished, so if we need extra bodies we can deploy them in a different area.”

Davis told the Commission the pilot has garnered some attention politically due to the fact the company is an Alberta-based startup and due to the amount of waste that has been reduced by saving on paper and other materials. In the first three months of the pilot, Davis speculated there may have been upwards of $100,000 in savings..

“It fits very well with government mandates,” he said. “It’s working out very well.”

LPS has had one officer involved in the project from the beginning.

The members learn how to use the app in small groups until they are proficient enough with the app to become trainers themselves.

“It expands exponential y,” Davis said. “We’ve been rolling it out in waves so we can manage costs.”

Davis said with the realization that officers who do not receive full training with the app could be less likely to use it at all, efforts have been made to keep training circles small and focused.

A presentation is in the works for the Commission, and Davis said an effort will be made to inform the public as well – especially if local residents have concerns LPS members are spending too much time on their phones.

“(LPS hopes) people understand when we show up, we’re not ignoring them to text our buddies, it’s how we are inputting our data now,” said Davis. “Anecdotally, what I’m hearing from officers is events that used to take three hours, we’re able to clear them in a half-hour to 45 minutes. It’s revolutionizing what we’re doing.”

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