The Orleans Parish Communication District (OPCD) in Louisiana is upgrading its public safety digital records with a cloud-deployable system that will make it easier to collect and share data.
In coordination with the City of New Orleans and the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Department, the OPCD used Hexagon’s HxGN OnCall Records system to replace a local siled system. Stakeholders are meeting this week to kick off what will likely be a year-long deployment effort of the software-as-a-service solution, said OPCD executive director Tyrell Morris.
“We don’t share information very easily here because our systems weren’t built or designed with integration in mind,” Morris said. “Efficiency was an afterthought. We are flipping that paradigm now.
Law enforcement has more data at their disposal than ever, since text to 911, video to 911 and ways to access images from Ring cameras have become more common, he added. The OPCD, which is the public safety response point for all emergency communications via 911 in the parish, needed a platform that could support and view all of these recordings.
“It’s important to us that the data is in a position or formatted in a way that it can easily be shared or integrated into existing systems or future systems,” Morris said.
In fact, migrating historical data will likely be the biggest challenge, he predicted. “We have data from many different systems and many different formats, and we need to integrate all of this information into the new system,” he said. “We really have to [ensure that we] do not lose any functionality or the ability to view historical information. »
When records come from multiple systems, including an internal system, it’s important that there are checks and balances to ensure the data is moving in a consistent and usable format, added Ben Ernst, vice president and general manager of US public safety for the Security and Infrastructure division of Hexagon, a provider of sensors, software and autonomous solutions.
For example, when preparing data for migration, the OPCD will ensure that it complies with the federal government’s new crime reporting standard, which moved on January 1 from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey to the incident reporting system.
The deployment will begin with the largest police department in the parish – the New Orleans Police Department, which has approximately 1,400 officers – before also moving to the Housing Authority of New Orleans Police Department, at the Orleans Levee District Police and Port Police Department.
Police officers and deputies will have access to the system from any internet-connected device, and data will be backed up to the Microsoft Azure Government cloud. Other immediate benefits include reduced administrative burdens for agents, real-time alerts, and the ability to integrate with computer-aided dispatch and mobile systems.
Another impetus for modernization was a successful ransomware attack on New Orleans in December 2019. Although OPCD’s records management system was unaffected, the system was down for three months and officers reverted to paper reports.
“We leaned in a bit and really did an assessment of some points of vulnerability,” Morris said. “But even before the attack, the system was outdated. It was just time for us to give one of the most critical data systems used to maintain our public safety data… a refresh.
OPCD builds on past successes with citywide technology deployments such as Quick Base, a low-code platform that provides rapid and coordinated response.
“We know the faster an agent can close a case or close a report, the faster they can get back on the streets and take the next call,” Morris said. “When we have ineffective systems, we find that they’re on the street for hours or in jail for hours,” he said. “We want to make the agent experience – from initial call to arrest to booking to next call – as simple, as fast and as easy as possible, because the technology that also does double employment, we know, reduces morale and causes frustration.