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govt-ontario-logo.gif (1663 bytes) 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 driver’s license project to introduce driver’s 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 technology solutions.

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 objectives:

  • 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 investigated;

  • to introduce modern business applications such as electronic citations;

  • to expedite enforcement through on-the-spot payment of traffic offenses;

  • to improve the accuracy of data through source data entry;

  • to improve delivery of emergency health services in ambulances.

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 workstation.

  • 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 backend applications.

  • 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 (CPIC)

  • Entry of Vehicle Accident data

  • Routing of messages to affected emergency health services (ambulance system)

  • Ministry of Transportation driver and vehicle information system

  • 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 systems.

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 architectures;

  • 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.


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