Oakland Police Department
"Afaria is a great product. We're able to send out large files to the cars and to update those files automatically. It's very flexible and we like the fact that it has a lot of possibilities and potential to do a whole lot of different things."
City of Oakland Police Department
The Oakland Police Department needed a single solution that would send up-to-date information wirelessly through the network to patrol car laptops. For this, the department turned to Sybase’s iAnywhere subsidiary, and implemented a mobile crime-fighting solution that enables officers to automatically get what they need.
- The Oakland police department's solution is implemented to
run behind the scenes, transparent to the end-user, as officers work to
keep the peace.
- Enables reliable information feeds to patrol cars
- Streamlines criminal tracking
- Improves information flow
- Public Sector
To Protect and to Serve
In December 2000, the City of Oakland installed laptop computers in more than 200 patrol cars, so officers could depend less upon dispatchers by electronically inquiring and directly receiving information about suspicious people or vehicles. As it turned out, installing the computers was just the beginning.
After installing the new hardware, the department implemented an IP-based network, and later an 802.11b wireless LAN to offer wireless coverage in many areas throughout the city
With their new computer resources in place, police were more engaged because they had access to information and systems that could better enable them to identify criminals and to get news of dangerous situations faster and more effectively than ever before. The drawback: if they left the coverage area before a lengthy download was complete, they lost all of the information and had to start all over the next time they entered the coverage area. They began their search for a single solution that could save officers valuable time and ensure that they received important information automatically as soon as it was available.
Finding the right software was a challenge. The technical hurdles the Oakland Police Department faced had not yet been resolved in the public safety industry. For example, Oakland PD users routinely spend time outside of their wireless coverage area. The patrol cars are constantly on the move. What could they do to avoid interrupted information downloads? How would the department’s IT group push software upgrades to applications on laptops in patrol cars? Would the department actually take patrol cars out of commission to update their computers?
On the Lookout for a Mobile Solution
With their high-mobility needs and dependence on the absolute latest information, officers needed a tool that could ensure their mobile devices were updated continually and automatically.
“We looked at a few companies that did this kind of updating,” said Officer Inez Ramirez. “We went with the Afaria solution because it had so many features above and beyond what the others offered: document management, hardware management, software management and the script writing feature. We really liked all of those features and felt that it offered us a lot of capabilities for the future.”
Afaria, from Sybase subsidiary iAnywhere, automatically starts working every time a patrol car enters the coverage area. The solution updates information and software in 30 to 60 seconds, marking and restarting the update if the car leaves the coverage area before the download is complete. The 802.11b connection automatically turns off when the process is complete or the car is out of range, saving bandwidth and preserving network speed.
“With Afaria we’re able to send out large files to the cars and to update those files automatically,” Ramirez said. “Right now, we are able to send out wanted posters, missing persons information, crime statistics. We can do it all automatically.”
And Afaria is easy to use and can be implemented to run behind the scenes, transparent to the end-user.
“We’re able to perform a lot of functionality without the officers having to think about it,” Ramirez said. “It’s busy enough out on the streets—we need to keep the computer stuff simple.”
If Afaria finds a corrupt file that could cause a performance problem, an uncorrupted version of the file can be sent as a replacement. The software can automatically perform the search and the replacement, preventing the end-users and system administrators from spending time handling computer maintenance. Department IT administrators can manage the software on any of the over 200 laptops from a Web browser or server without assistance from the police officers.
The Future is Now: Fighting Crime with Technology
The Oakland PD is scheduled to roll out mobile devices to all of the department’s motorcycles so that they can share all the same advantages of officers in patrol cars.
“Afaria is a great product,” Ramirez said. “It has a lot of expandability—lots of features. It’s very flexible and we like the fact that it has a lot of possibilities and potential to do a whole lot of different things. It does a whole lot more than just send files.”