Traditional Notepad versus The Digital Notebook

March 12, 2015 Alex Kottoor

Public safety with devices |Scenedoc

About a year and half ago, my business partner, Adrian Bubalo, and I started to narrow our focus on public safety with one mission in mind: how we can leverage the proliferation of mobile devices to optimize public safety and, ultimately, help the brave men and women, who protect our civil liberties everyday, redefine how they work. One of our early advisors, Lenna Bradburn, Canada’s first female Chief of Police, came up with statement that we adopted as our company tagline at the time. “The Office is the Officer.” It was perfect! With the advancement of smartphones and tablets, there was no reason an officer should have to go back to the car or back to the office to make queries, write reports or to be effective, for that matter.

Above and beyond simple note-taking capabilities, one of the primary use cases for agencies to adopt the product, SceneDoc offers so much more. We had a shift in our tagline recently to “Public Safety’s Trusted Digital Notebook” that caused the lights to go on for many of our prospective customers and partners as it quite frankly helped simplify what we do. We are really the convergence of evidentiary photography, audio, video, mobile report writing, electronic forms, notes, sketches, diagramming, not to mention compliance and workflow, wrapped into a highly secure and flexible ‘mobile and cloud first’ environment. Or, more simply put, we are much more than a digital notebook.

So the question becomes, how do we, in public safety, help turn the mounds of paperwork that plague the process into intelligence?

Search-ability

Prior to co-founding SceneDoc, I spent many years as a bag-carrying sales professional and I can personally attest to the fact that handwriting notes onto a traditional notepad has got to be one of the most futile activities most of us engage in on daily basis. What do you do when that notepad has been exhausted? We launch it into our desk drawer and start a new one. We’ve all been down the path of having to recall some information from some critical meeting nine months earlier only to realize how difficult, cumbersome and, in some cases, near impossible it can be to retrieve any of the required details (if at all!). At SceneDoc, all of our notes are entered digitally almost entirely for this reason. Notes need to be searchable and retrievable at a moment’s notice and there are several technologies that can help us through this.

Actionable Intelligence

A common discussion I have with virtually every Chief, Sheriff and Member of Command is actionable intelligence and the priority of evolving from a stance of reactive to proactive policing. It’s a really hot topic and any forward-thinking Chief, Commander, etc. is actively seeking opportunities to leverage big data analytics to prevent crime. This sort of intelligence, however, is only as good as the inputs. Having all data collection consolidated through a piece of technology helps us mine bits of ultra-meaningful but disparate information. More times than not, it’s these small bits of data that help break cases wide open. We had a customer once say, “First Responders are first at the scene but last to have access to the technology they need.” Let’s start documenting things that traditionally go undocumented! I’m convinced we’ll all be in a better place the day this becomes standard practice in law enforcement.

Cost Savings & Avoidances

Yes, what’s a proposition like ‘going mobile’ in public safety without talking about costs! In these times of flattened or declining budgets, I’m not sure what better enabler there is than mobile technology, especially in field work like Patrol, Criminal Investigations, etc. Last year, we helped one of our customers free up enough budget to procure a fleet of smartphones and subscriptions to two separate software applications by foregoing the need for costly physical notepads, let alone all the other benefits that are created by a Department ‘going mobile’, which include standardization, near real-time visibility to the scene, preparedness, safety improvements, risk reductions, consistency and accuracy, just to name a few.

Many of our customers who have taken the plunge into mobility cannot imagine a life without these devices and applications. People outside this industry constantly ask me the question “haven’t police done this already?” I think many of us believe (not just because of TV) that leveraging cutting-edge technologies are front and center to every law enforcement operation. The truth is we have significant ground to cover. The good news is that wheels are definitely in motion and we are starting to extract empirical evidence that technology, namely mobile technology, is the answer to cutting costs, creating real efficiencies, reallocating resources, as well as proactive and predictive policing.

If you’d like to discuss the transition and how our customers have found success in executing a mobile strategy, I’d be pleased to take the time to share our knowledge and experience… let’s connect!

Be well and stay safe.

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