Government Public Safety Pilot Project
An Integrated Safety Project (ISP) was initiated by the
Ontario Government in 1993. Several functionally related ministries were involved in
analyzing justice-system related business processes in an integrated fashion. These
ministries included the office of the Solicitor General (representing law enforcement
agencies), the office of the Attorney General (representing the courts), Transportation
(representing driver and vehicle information), Finance (representing fine-collection
agencies) and the Management Board Secretariat (representing central computing and
telecommunications infrastructure management). The following four projects were considered
critical to the success of an integrated justice system:
A mobile workstation (MWS) pilot project described
later in this section.
A collision data project with aims to automate on-the-spot
collection of collision data.
A magnetic stripe drivers license project to introduce
drivers licenses based on digitized photographs
A central offense database (CODB) project to act as a
repository of all offense data, including disposition information available to all police
agencies in the province
The key business objective of the ISP initiative overall was
to make changes in all the related processes that impact delivery of the justice system to
public. Since the overall implementation promised to be a very complex undertaking, the
MWS pilot project was initiated with two key objectives: to validate business case
justifications for the rollout of the entire project, and to validate underlying
The MWS pilot project involved 50 IBM 730T ThinkPad
(semi-ruhgged) workstations spread across 14 different user organizations, eight
different computing platforms, two wireless networks and multiple transport protocols. The
users comprised large provincial organizations, regional police organizations and local
police agencies. Highway truck inspection officers and ambulance drivers also participated
in evaluating the technology.
From the perspective of law enforcement agencies, the MWS
project formed the heart of the overall undertaking. It had the following business
to improve law enforcement processes by providing the most
current information from all local, regional and national databases to police on the road;
to support community policing by reducing the administrative
workload on officers and making them more available within the community;
to improve police safety by expediting car-to-car
communication and making advance information available on suspects and locations
to introduce modern business applications such as electronic
to expedite enforcement through on-the-spot payment of traffic
to improve the accuracy of data through source data entry;
to improve delivery of emergency health services in
Logical Technology Architecture of the MWS Pilot project
A logical technology architecture for the MWS pilot project
was developed. It was based on the following considerations:
The end user device would be a PC-based ruggedized
Initially it would be fixed inside vehicles, but the potential
would be left open to switch to a portable hand-held device.
Existing MDT applications based on Motorola terminals would be
emulated on the PCs
A common Windows 3.1 user interface was used to access all
All local police agencies would route all queries their local
systems first and if there was no hit, route these queries provincial or national systems
through a common communications switch.
Public shared packet-based (Mobitex) wireless network was used
for the pilot.
Industry-standard transport protocols based on TCP/IP was
implemented. Protocol conversion from TCP/IP to IBM SNA legacy protocol was implemented to
interface with driver and vehicle information systems.
Applications Supported by the Pilot Project
Queries to local police incident-report database
Queries to regional offense database
Queries to national criminal offense database
Entry of Vehicle Accident data
Routing of messages to affected emergency health services
Ministry of Transportation driver and vehicle information
Electronic ticketing (citation)
Application Integration Requirements
Application integration requirements were different for each
of the eight organizations involved in the project. Three different interfaces for Tandem,
IBM MVS and DEC from a single Windows client application were designed and developed.
Lessons Learned From the Pilot Project
The following lessons were learned from the project:
Circuit-switched cellular technology is not suitable for
prime-time mission-critical OLTP applications accessed in a moving vehicle. The networks
and available communications software interfaces are unable to meet the error recovery and
performance requirements of these applications.
Packet switching networks such as Mobitex and ARDIS (and CDPD
in future) are more appropriate wireless networks for public safety applications.
Middleware designed for non-wireless networks could add a
significant amount of overhead to application-processing and data-transfer times. The
project was forced to drop Tandem RSC middleware used in a wireline environment.
Ergonomic considerations in permanently installing ruggedized
workstations and printers in modern police vehicles with dual airbag constrains constitute
serious challenges to mount" designers and equipment-installation vendors.
Dedicated attention is needed to take care of safety considerations. Lack of attention to
the ergonomic design could ultimately affect the overall success of the project.
The pros and cons of more expensive ruggedized, specialty
mobile computer devices, versus less expensive off-the-shelf personal notebooks should be
seriously evaluated by police agencies.
Properly implemented solutions can generate tangible economic
savings and non-tangible benefits sufficient to justify large expenditures on such
Unique Features Of the Project
This pilot project was one of the most sophisticated of its
type in North America. The following characteristics made it unique:
It was a large and complex systems integration project
involving 14 organizations, eight different computer systems and four different computer
It integrated new applications with multiple existing
applications on minicomputers and legacy systems;
The electronic ticketing application has the potential for
reducing a six-week process to a six-minute process through on-the-spot ticketing and
payment by credit card;
Critical response time requirements for OLTP applications
imposes a great challenge in a wireless environment.