Ohio County Police to go Wireless

Hamilton County, Ohio, has selected IBM Corp. to build a wireless network-based application to connect its police department, court system and other offices so that paperwork no longer keeps police officers at their desks.

Project Cop-Smart -- meaning Community Oriented Policing Strengthened through Management and Reporting Technologies -- will enable police officers in their cruisers to create and send electronic reports and documents using laptop computers and wireless communications.

The county began to formulate the idea for the system two years ago, when it came time to upgrade the mobile data terminal systems installed in police cars.

When police officers were asked what could be done to make their days more productive, "the overwhelming response was, give me a laptop -- get me out of all this paper," said Tom Russell, information technology manager for the Hamilton County/Cincinnati Regional Crime Information Center, which includes 44 local police agencies.

County officials estimate that the application could reduce the time police officers spend filling out reports by 32 percent, which amounts to about two and a half hours for an eight-hour workday.

The contract, funded by a grant from the Justice Department, will put the necessary equipment into the county's 650 patrol cars by November 2000.

The application not only allows police officers to send the reports, but also makes it easier to fill out the report and to manage the approval process. An officer can tap into local, state or federal databases, and the application, which uses IBM FormRunner, will automatically pull relevant data from those databases into the forms.

The software also updates those databases with the new information filled out by the officer and provides workflow management, ensuring that a report goes through the appropriate chain of command.

The electronic reports will be stored in an intranet-based database where people in the county's courts or district attorney's offices can access them.

In addition to FormRunner, the application builds on IBM's Lotus Notes and Lotus Domino software and the company's SecureWay Wireless technology.

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