What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is the process of using technology to create new and better business practices to enhance how organizations can deliver value to customers. In today’s day and age, it falls on companies in the tech industry like FSET to lead the charge and develop disruptive solutions that challenge the status quo and innovate to solve tomorrow’s challenges today.
“Disruptive technology changes everything, and the important piece is that it’s often an evolution, not something that happens just overnight,” says FSET Chief Operating Officer Nicole Brown
“Sometimes digital transformation can happen quickly, but it can also take years – it’s about progression, taking technology in the right direction and leveraging it to empower others. What we’re seeing today is that you have to have it, and if you don’t embrace it, you’ll get left behind.”
Understanding the Need
The OC Transpo Special Constable Unit are designated peace officers within the City of Ottawa. OC Transpo Special Constables are responsible for upholding federal, provincial and municipal legislation as well as providing customer service to all its transit users on all related transit properties. Special Constables have the power to investigate and enforce the Criminal Code of Canada in relation to any of the public transit properties, the city’s public transit busses, and light rail transit system across the nation’s capital.
“We patrol everything transit-related, such as transitways, shelters, bus stops, light rail stations – anything that has an OC Transpo bus or train that attends, we will respond to,” says Jonathan, an OC Transpo Superintendent Special Constable. “We really needed something so that if we were on foot or on the train, we would be able to access and run CPIC, do quick reporting and be able to access our database remotely.”
In Kenora, where FSET is headquartered – company CEO David Brown was certain he could leverage his company’s 60+ years of combined experience working with law enforcement information technology (LEIT) to create a solution that could provide the Special Constables with what they needed.
“These officers needed real-time information directly at their fingertips,” says FSET’s COO, Nicole Brown.
“The biggest thing in law enforcement has always been being able to have the officer in the field more than they’re at their desk,” adds Al Rivers, FSET Chief Information Officer, “Being able to work and do everything you need to do from anywhere saves countless manhours, and makes it that much easier for our police to serve and protect.”
Digital Transformation of Connected Officer With #MobilityFirst Solution
In 2017, the OC Transpo Special Constables officially became members of the Ontario Police Technology Information Cooperative (OPTIC), a provincial policing coalition aimed at providing state-of-the-art information technology and records management systems (RMS) to member agencies through a shared data network. By joining OPTIC, OC Transpo Special Constables gained access to an RMS hosted and supported by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, allowing them to take part in what the coalition calls intelligence-based policing. So too was the door opened for a partnership with FSET, which provides service for several OPTIC member agencies.
FSET and the OC Transpo Special Constables soon began working together to figure out how to make NicheRMS – OPTIC’s default records management system – available to OC Transpo officers in the field. FSET knew the Special Constables would benefit from having a satellite desktop, accessible anywhere, anytime without any barriers. While officers first experimented with the idea of carrying around tablets and laptops, they were quickly found to not only be much more costly but also cumbersome and less efficient.
The team at FSET quickly realized that in order to have a truly Connected Officer, smartphones – or more specifically, Samsung DeX technology – were what the Special Constables needed. But the question was, how? At the time, there simply wasn’t a way to securely access Niche RMS on mobile devices.
“We designed a virtual desktop infrastructure for law enforcement: Private Community Cloud for Law Enforcement (P.C.C.L.E.), or as we affectionately call it, pickle,” says Al Rivers, FSET Chief Information Officer. “It was a lot of investigation – test this app, try out that one, see what works, and then build on it. It was a learning process of understanding what the best and most functional applications and software were, and then how they could all fit together to work cohesively on a DeX-ready smartphone.”
“We were selected to be the champions of the work, to test out ideas and experiment with all of the features that FSET was looking to implement,” says Superintendent Jonathan.
And so, #MobilityFirst emerged – the idea of having an officer be able to access Niche RMS on Samsung phones through Mobile Innovation Corp’s Mobile Police Assist (MPA Niche), which could also be seamlessly plugged into screens in both their cruisers and back at the office through Samsung DeX technology.
Jonathan created a small group of Special Constables to help test the solution step-by-step, serving as the basis for his own agency-wide training manual before the prototype was eventually launched for all OC Transpo officers.
“We did the work to put all of these applications together,” says FSET’s Al Rivers. “It was a lot of long hours, testing and re-testing different configurations and server iterations, all based on the vision that an officer would be able to use a single mobile device as their computer.”
Since transitioning to FSET’s #MobilityFirst solution, every OC Transpo Special Constable has become a Connected Officer with Niche RMS and other critical tools always at their fingertips.
“The mobility solution allows all my officers, no matter where they are in the city, to access from their mobile deployment phone, RMS. It can do the reports, they run their own CPIC checks and do 90% of their work from their mobile phone,” says Jonathan.
Owing to the success of the technology, OC Transpo cruisers are now being factory built with DeX technology included.
Congratulations and Thank You to the OC Transpo Special Constables Unit
FSET is beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with the OC Transpo Special Constables. In our pursuit of technical excellence and cutting-edge solutions, we need strong partners to help us understand and test technology in the field. #MobilityFirst and the FSET Connected Officer would not be possible if it weren’t for the dedication of the Special Constables to champion our cause and lead the way forward. FSET is now looking at introducing #MobilityFirst and the Connected Officer for several other police agencies across the country.
“I’m really proud of our work together, it was a long time in the making, and everyone involved put so much effort into making the project happen. Jonathan and the rest of the OC Transpo Special Constables really embraced it, and they were the perfect partners because they saw the power of what digital transformation can do for an organization,” says Nicole Brown, FSET COO.
“Being able to interact with officers like Jonathan and the OC Transpo Special Constables who are as passionate about the job and the technology and how those can be married up together, it’s why I do this job,” adds CIO Al Rivers.
The #MobilityFirst solution would not be possible without FSET’s technological partners. We would not be able to bring the office to the officer with the right combination of software, applications and hardware: Citrix, Nutanix, Gamber-Johnson, NetMotion, Samsung, Entrust, Mobile Innovation, NicheRMS, and more.
To learn more or watch a video about FSET’s digital transformation journey with the OC Transpo Special Constable unit, click here.