By Dale Stockton
Every year in May, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Technology Conference brings together public safety tech practitioners from across the country. This year, IACP Tech was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from May 24 through May 26. Attendance was approximately one thousand and the show provided a great mix of vendors with the latest tech innovations and workshops that clearly demonstrated the value of tech as a force multiplier.
T-Mobile for Government was at the IACP Tech Conference and had a continual level of engagement with attendees. Many were interested in finding out more about the Connecting Heroes® program, a private-public partnership that is a ten-year commitment by T-Mobile to supply free, subsidized, and low-cost smartphone connectivity and technology assistance to state and local first responder agencies. Connecting Heroes has allowed many organizations to cost-effectively achieve full smartphone deployment to their sworn personnel.
Joining T-Mobile at IACP Tech were two valued partners, Blueforce Development and Visual Labs. Mike Helfrich, the CEO for Blueforce, demonstrated the MOBILE Command Post in a Box that’s powered by T-Mobile. The unit is person-portable and is a turnkey solution that provides comms, sensor fusion, and a distributed common operating picture. It’s a powerful way to dramatically improve situational awareness during field operations. Mike was also a presenter in two workshops (see below).
Visual Labs is an innovative organization known as the “body camera company that doesn’t make body cameras.” Visual Labs is actually a software company that has developed an effective way of using a smartphone as a body-worn camera, most often carried in a chest mount so that officers can operate hands-free. The smartphone remains fully capable of performing its traditional functions, providing incredible value and utility for agencies. Officer safety is improved by providing geolocation at an officer level. Bill Burleson, law enforcement liaison for Visual Labs provided demos and also participated in one of the workshops (see below).
Workshops at IACP Technology Conference
One of the benefits of attending IACP Tech is that there are always practitioner-focused workshops that provide insight to the many ways that agencies are effectively harnessing mobile technology. T-Mobile had a role in three of the workshops this year:
Improving Efficiency and Community Engagement by Going Mobile
This workshop was presented by Major Eric Schmitz of the Lenexa, Kansas Police Department. He demonstrated the benefits of issuing smartphones to all personnel and the synergy realized through effective integration with existing systems. The result is a connected officer with ready access to mission-essential information regardless of assignment. Using complementary technologies and applications as force multipliers, the smartphones are CAD-enabled, CJIS-compliant, and used for gathering evidence, managing body-worn cameras, and accessing CCTV devices and live drone feeds. The focus was on lessons learned and best practices. (Lenexa PD was also highlighted in a recent IPSA Webinar, A mobility-first approach provides powerful capabilities. An in-depth look at one agency’s operation.)
A Look at What 5G Means for Public Safety
Wireless connectivity facilitates real-time, effective communication and 5G is already opening new opportunities. Officer safety and effectiveness depend on fast, uninterrupted access to critical applications and data no matter the assignment -whether drone operation, tactical response, or search and rescue. 5G provides significantly improved data transfer speed and lower latency, delivering high volumes of data in near real-time and significantly improving situational awareness. Operational concepts like cross-sensor cueing and integration will be explained, and real use cases will be shared. Presenters for this workshop were John Mittmann, IT Manager, Post Falls, Idaho Police Department; Michael Helfrich, CEO, Blueforce Development; and Chief (ret) David Brown, Public Safety Advisor for T-Mobile.
Going Mobile – Insight to Emerging Trends from Solution Providers
Smartphones can serve as an effective force-multiplier, especially when paired with powerful applications that improve field capabilities and situational awareness. This workshop featured four representatives of proven mobile solution providers who presented powerful use cases and insight to emerging trends. Topics included smartphones replacing in-car computers, smartphones as body-worn cameras, a compact mobile command post, and ways to cost-effectively implement a mobile program. Presenters included Keith Redlin, Public Sector Innovation Leader for Samsung Electronics America; Bill Burleson, Law Enforcement Liaison, Visual Labs, Inc.; Michael Helfrich, CEO, Blueforce Development; and Assistant Chief (ret) Eric Olsen, Public Safety Advisor for T-Mobile.
T-Mobile for Government at Fire Department Instructors Conference
A month before the IACP Tech Conference, T-Mobile was at the Fire Department Instructors Conference, one of the world’s largest public safety tradeshows. Members of the T-Mobile Emergency Response Team were there, along with their ruggedized Jeep SAT COLT that has responded to dozens of major disasters. Blueforce Development provided demonstrations and another partner, Longan Vision, showcased its incredible helmet-mounted smart visor that uses augmenting reality to provide enhanced vision and information sharing abilities, allowing firefighters to see through smoke, locate victims, and find fire sources.
T-Mobile for Government understands the importance of public safety operations and is absolutely committed to working with its partners to improve operational effectiveness and safety for first responders. Check them out at the following upcoming conferences: National Sheriff’s Association in Kansas City, FBI National Academy Associates in Cleveland, Association of Public Safety Communication Officials in Anaheim, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Dallas. Find out more at T-Mobile.com/PublicSafety.