As opposed to the large initial capital investment needed to install internally operated software systems, most SaaS applications require a monthly service fee that is much more affordable considering the limited budgets of smaller departments. Additionally, SaaS application service providers are responsible for content management and software updates, and possess the resources to ensure data is housed in a form compliant with federal standards specified under NIEM and that users have access to the most up-to-date software applications.
That SaaS service providers provide the majority of IT support for their applications is crucial for the aims of small- and mid-sized community law enforcement agencies. A recent study conducted by Law Enforcement Technology surveyed a cross-section of law enforcement officers from both large and small agencies. It found that 45 percent did not have the resources for full-time IT support within the agency.
Additionally, 94 percent of respondents said they would be willing to adopt technologies that allow them to share information with other law enforcement agencies at the state and federal level.
These findings demonstrate that law enforcement personnel are willing to adopt technologies that allow them to better share information. However, many agencies do not have the resources or human capital to implement software systems that would allow them to do so.
Recognizing the demand by a large portion of the law enforcement community for affordable, manageable technology solutions, the private sector has responded with a range of hosted software applications that comply with federal standards and are field-tested and ready for use.
For example, BlueStreak Connect, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, recently released a SaaS-based mobile field reporting solution that provides dynamic e-forms incident reporting solutions for police officers on patrol.
The solution streamlines incident reporting by providing a universal form accessible through mobile PCs installed in patrol vehicles. The technology walks the officer through a logical series of questions to gather the critical incident information, maps the data to the required reports, and packages the reports for delivery and approval by the officer's supervisor.
Furthermore, the information is relayed back to the agency database and housed in BlueStreak's servers in a form compatible with NIEM standards. In effect, BlueStreak is responsible for providing the software, collecting information and ensuring the information collected is compatible with federal guidelines for information sharing.
According to another survey conducted by Law Enforcement Technology, there is a significant demand for technologies that automate basic reporting processes for law enforcement agencies as reflected in the fact that 86 percent of law enforcement personnel surveyed spend two to three hours a day writing and filing reports, with 36 percent spending more than three hours a day on this process.
Paul Smith, president of BlueStreak Connect, says his company's ConnectSuite was designed with the needs of small- and mid-sized law enforcement agencies in mind. "We realize that the role of smaller community police departments is crucial in the effort to combat criminal and terrorist networks," he says, "and we want to provide them with the best tools available to carry out their mission objective.
"Our product model was designed to ensure that every officer has the best technologies at his disposal to protect the public," he explains, "and we see SaaS software applications as playing a huge role in the future of law enforcement. The way we look at it, police officers should be able to focus on protecting the public, and should not be distracted with logistical concerns associated with IT. That is our job."
- Questionnaire-driven data collection
- Pay by the user
- No software to install
- Offline capability
- Prepopulation with user-defined routing
- GJXDM and NIEM compliant
- Incident Activity Dashboard
The future of SaaS
Many law enforcement information sharing networks already exist with architectures that resemble SaaS models by incorporating third-party servers to coordinate the flow of information, such as:
- National Crime Information Center (NCIC)
- International Justice and Public Safety Information Sharing Network
- Automated Fingerprint Identity System (AFIS)
- Law Enforcement National Data Exchange Initiative (N-DEx)