Creating the mobile office

Michigan departments take technology on the road

  1. Set goals, measure and develop a roadmap. There are many mobile technology choices in the marketplace. Before acquiring a mobile technology, understand how you are going to use it and set targets for productivity and effectiveness that you feel you should be able to attain. From the business side, you should define how these results will enhance your agency's operations -- and set metrics to measure how a mobile technology or application is helping you achieve these goals. From both the administrative and the field sides, it is also important to develop a technology "roadmap" that spans three to five years for the agency and lists new applications you plan to add to your mobility platform. The more these items are articulated in a strong business plan, the easier it is to convert that plan into a grant application for funding.
  2. Enter into effective partnerships. At the agency level, this means partnering with other law enforcement agencies for new technology acquisitions, grant applications and deployment, At the technology acquisition level, it means partnering with proven technology vendors who understand law enforcement, the daily challenges that central office and field law enforcement face, and the values that mobile technology can deliver.Carefully pilot any new mobile technology. Most new technology deployments also have an upfront "tune-up" and problem resolution period before the technology runs smoothly. Negotiate with your vendors for technology "burn in" and trial periods in order to ensure that your goals for the technology will be met. Often, a small pilot of new technology will enable you and your vendor to learn specific things about how your people use the technology in the field -- and the vendor can tailor the product to best fit your operation.
  3. Confirm usability as well as new functions and features. Officers in the field and personnel at headquarters are already overloaded with priorities and workloads. It comes as no surprise that many law enforcement agencies say one of their greatest challenges is getting officers who are used to doing things one way to change how they work. The mobile technologies and applications that you bring into your operation should be easy to use as well as useful.

     Mary Schacklet is president of Transworld Data. Prior to founding the company, Schacklett was vice president of product research and software development for Summit Information Systems and vice president of strategic planning and technology at FSI International. She has a master's degree from the University of Southern California, where she taught for several years.

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