officers and non-police personnel.
The idea behind adopting computer-aided dispatch software that’s used in communication centres and mobile applications used by officers on in-car laptops is to preserve the privacy and operational sensitivity of information being exchanged, said François Letourneau, manager of the public safety group at Xwave in Ottawa.
“”You’ve probably heard the stories of scanners being used to intercept voice transactions and police files,”” he said. He recalled an incident a few years ago in which police were undertaking a silent operation using only a messaging function, not the police radio. “”And when they arrested the person, he had a police scanner. Had they started using their radios, he probably would have known they were coming.””
Xwave’s system has other benefits as well. It features an automatic vehicle location capability that allows dispatchers in the communication centre to see patrol units moving on a map in real time, said T.J. Maroney, an account executive in Xwave’s public safety group. “”So it improves the officers’ safety because the dispatcher in the communication centre always knows where those officers are.””
Field officers will also be able to tap local, provincial and federal databases to learn more about people or vehicles they pull over without going through the dispatch centre, Maroney said.
Inspector Harley Bryson of the Brandon Police Service said his department rejected similar CAD systems because they did not have the functionality of Xwave’s product. He was also impressed by the years of work the company had done with the RCMP, with which it has had a relationship since 1989.
The system is being marketed to all public safety agencies, including police, fire or emergency ambulance dispatch centres across Canada and the U.S., Letourneau said. Outside of the RCMP, police forces in New Westminster, B.C. have adopted Xwave’s dispatching and mobile workstations. Ontario Provincial Police in Cornwall, Ont. and the city of Edmonton are using only the mobile component, he said.
“”I would have to say that the organizations that have these tools are the visionaries — those who have police chiefs that are willing to spend some money on infrastructure rather than on guns and cruisers.””
Police forces in Canada have already agreed to move towards the type of public key infrastructure Xwave uses, and major organizations like the OPP, RCMP and Sûreté du Québec will act as hubs providing the tools to other forces, he explained. Adoption will become mandatory in 2005.
It’s hard to attach a price tag on implementing xwave’s dispatching and mobile workstations because “”they’re not cookie-cutter”” products, said Maroney. It depends on factors like the way a company does business and the kind of information it wants to have access to, he said.
The Brandon Police Service paid $700,000 for its version of xwave’s product, which will involve system testing and training of personnel in January, and will go live in February, said Bryson.