Law enforcement turns to cloud computing for streamlined data management

Financial Services Writer

Law enforcement and emergency services are swiftly moving to cloud-computing solutions to improve communication, collaboration and record storage, as well as to gain access to criminal justice information systems (CJIS). The following are some of the ways that cloud computing enables more streamlined data management in law enforcement and emergency services:

The state of police-related cloud activity

According to American City and Country, 16 percent of law enforcement agencies are using the cloud today and 38 percent plan to implement or will consider cloud computing solutions within the next two years. Common cloud-based applications in police departments include crime reporting and analysis, mapping, records management and video streaming.

"Situational awareness video, or SAV, can be so critical in any kind of police or emergency response, including medical emergencies," Ahsan Baig, the Oakland, California, police department's division manager of public safety services and business applications, told the source. "So having the video and having the capability to stream it back to the incident commander, that itself is just phenomenal."

Cloud repositories enable better collaboration

Law enforcement agencies considering cloud solutions often see CJIS access as the most important factor. CJIS is increasingly important, because paper-based methods of canvassing and interviewing make information cumbersome to compile and process later. The inherent time delay in manual methods leads to slow analysis. Further, electronic recordkeeping tends to run on different systems, with little communication between the technologies, according to Law Officer.

By contrast, the automation available through cloud computing enables real-time data sharing among different law enforcement agencies and labs, providing comprehensive and continuously updated views of ongoing investigations. Additionally, any data collected at crime scenes can be uploaded to a single cloud repository for ease of access, which enables better collaboration across federal and state jurisdictions. Analysis of this integrated data allows authorities to connect seemingly disparate trends and streamline investigations.

Cost savings with cloud computing

Storage capabilities in the cloud make it easier for law enforcement and emergency management services to connect and share data repositories easier. For instance, the police department of Aransas Pass, Texas, a town with a population of more than 8,000, has already uploaded two to four terabytes of video from Taser body cameras, according to another American City and County piece. It would be costly and inconvenient for a small precinct to store and manage this data without the help of the cloud, but with streamlined management processes the department can easily collect and analyze this valuable data.

Beyond storage, cloud-based systems also mitigate the cost of building and maintaining complex in-house storage technologies, hardware and software, as well as the price of the technical expertise necessary to maintain these systems.

Better search capabilities with COPLINK

COPLINK allows agencies to take advantage of the knowledge typically siloed in other departments' databases. The service gives police the ability to conduct searches with a wide range of criteria, including full or partial license plate numbers, nicknames, license numbers and more. "More than 6,000 law enforcement agencies in North America use COPLINK," reports NetworkWorld.

COPLINK can also display information on a map, providing a visual illustration of the volume of a specific criminal activity within a region. This visualization of data can prove invaluable when it comes to deploying resources and predicting future crimes.

Improved public safety

The state of Kansas cited a number of benefits when it decided to move its 911 system to the cloud in mid-2015, according to StateScoop. The state's cloud-based system can communicate with tablets, smartphones, laptops and other connected devices, unlike the legacy telephone-based system. Besides giving citizens new, convenient ways to contact police, such communications also enable the integration of various feeds, including 911 calls, local videos from a street surveillance camera or a law enforcement officer's body camera. A state official told the publication that the IP nature of the "network makes the potential integration 'almost limitless.'"

Law enforcement and emergency management departments are just beginning to understand the synergies the cloud has to offer, and the industry will likely see more adoption as agencies continue to benefit from unified communications, data storage and collaborative search capabilities.

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Improve public safety with cloud computing