Montreal Police puts computer dispatch on cell network

The Montreal Police Service has struck a deal with IBM to provide officers with a secure public wireless connection giving them access at any time to emergency information regardless of where they are in Quebec.

The Computer Aided

Dispatch (CAD) System, which Montreal Police has used for more than a month, is based on a public cellular telephone network that prevents officers from losing contact with dispatchers should they travel outside the primary network’s coverage area.

Montreal Police, which respond to more than 3,000 emergency calls a day, had been mulling over switching from a less sophisticated private network to a cellular network for three years, said André Bernard, systems administrator for the Montreal Police Service.

The system supports many types of telecommunications links, including private wireless networks, cellular, Wi-Fi, satellite and others.

Adopting a cellular network has given the police emergency information in “”an average of three seconds,”” said Bernard. He said dispatchers can send photos of missing persons and suspects, text, licence plate numbers and electronic maps directly to mobile devices carried by officers in almost 500 patrol cars.

IBM also worked with the Toronto Police to develop the Enterprise Case and Occurrence Processing System (eCOPS), which began eight years ago as a way to build a new records management system and establish a platform for mobile solutions. The system was to store and combine data, including occurrence and arrest reports, crime analysis and pattern recognition.

But last September, Chief Julian Fantino slammed eCOPS, which quickly shifted from an off-the-shelf, to an in-house, technology, for exceeding its inital $8.8-million budget by more than $8 million.

Because of budgetary constraints, Montreal Police has decided to delay until next year plans to add video to the network, and equip officers patrolling on foot with a cell phone or PDA that can download similar information and pictures, Bernard added. Six hundred officers will receive PDAs.

But he said he’s uncertain how video will lengthen the three-second response time. “”Live video — I don’t know if we can make it (work) with the network. It takes a lot of space.””

The previous network, installed in 1989, had a painfully slow response time, Bernard said. “”Sometimes, at the peak period, it took a minute to send emergency calls. It was faster to use the voice radio than the digital radio. We could not make it faster. Old technology, you know.””

Montreal Police will pay $300,000 per month to service the three-year contract with IBM.

As well as using IBM’s WebSphere Everyplace Connection Manager software to provide secure wireless access to the CAD, Montreal Police is also using IBM eSeries P servers, said John Donaldson, a WebSphere executive for IBM Canada. He said the police department tapped IBM’s business consulting services organization to provide initial project planning, architectural support and an implementation plan.

IBM has “”a number of proposals in place”” for large emergency-service providers related to police, ambulance and health in Ontario and Quebec,”” explained Donaldson. “”We’re just in the final stages of it.””

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