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Our speed of communication has improved dramatically and I can ensure important messages are displayed across both buildings on the site almost instantaneously. It means that we can have our briefings by data conferencing, which adds to the flow of inteligence.
James Henrey, CEO

Staffordshire Police

Collaborating and interaction are key ingredients for successful policing. It is not surprising therefore that Staffordshire Police is having so much success working with collaborative and interactive technology.

It was twelve months ago at the ACPO show at the NEC, that Staffordshire’s Chief Police Officer first saw a SMART Board interactive whiteboard in action. Recognising its varied application, he was also quickly aware of the specific advantages of this technology for improving briefings to their officers prior to going on the beat.

IT Manager, Simon Bryan, was tasked with looking further into the possibilities and options available. After a demonstration Simon arranged a trial of SMART Board interactive whiteboards at the Police premises and put the requirement out to tender.

This tender was won by Smarter Interactive, an accredited reseller of the SMART Board. Two plasma screens with SMART Boar for Plasma Displays, and three front projection SMART Board interactive whiteboards were installed in the main briefing rooms at Staffordshire Police Headquarters. Whether the front projection SMART Board or SMART Board for Plasma Displays were used was dependent on the space available, the size of the viewable image required and the ability to install the projector in the ceiling.

The SMART Board for Plasma Displays is an interactive overlay, which turns a plasma display panel into a complete collaborative tool. SMART Board overlays, which are easy to fasten and secure to plasma displays, allow users access to computer based information in the meeting/training room and record information using a simple whiteboard interface. The overlay retains the clear bright image of the plasma display, whilst giving users intuitive touch control. The interactive display connects with the computer to display the computer’s image. Using the stylus provided, or touch, the police at Staffordshire can manipulate the displayed images. Presentations can be annotated over with automatic character recognition, text and images can be dragged and dropped, sections highlighted, and all this work can be saved for future use, or emailed to the attendees.

The plasmas with SMART overlays use includes intelligence briefings for each new shift. As a new shift comes on at 7.00am they need to know what has happened in the previous 24 hours. This may include news of burglaries, arrests, missing cars or particular offenders.

The City of Stoke is split into eight main areas, the Police Stations in each of these areas have their own intelligence officer responsible for carrying out the briefings for their own area. This “review” information is pertinent to all areas, however collating the information from each area had historically been carried out in Microsoft Word, which had been a cumbersome task.

Today each shift’s intelligence briefing is carried out on the SMART Board. The review information is saved, time and date stamped and can be stored on their intranet, where it can be accessed by all the other divisions. “This new system works so well because it reduces duplication of information” explains Simon Bryan. “Each station can view all the city’s information selecting out information appropriate to their area. Officers are more involved in the sharing of information, as the boards certainly support collaboration.”

Once the regional intelligence officers have carried out the briefings, they use the SMART Board recorder which comes with the board. This records the visual and audio key points of the presentation, ideal for those who have missed the briefing.

Having used the SMART Board in their briefing room, they soon realised the benefit of being able to use it during football match briefings at the ground. With both Port Vale and Stoke City Football Clubs in the Staffordshire area, Staffordshire Police has a regular presence in large numbers at the games. The problem was the size of the SMART Board which would make it hard to transport to the football ground for each match. The IT team realised that briefing 200-300 Offices for each home game called for a miniature SMART Board. Reseller Smarter Solutions demonstrated SMART Technology’s interactive pen display product Sympodiumä, which fitted this new requirement perfectly.

Using a room at the football ground, Staffordshire Police project the plan of the football ground from Sympodium onto a screen or wall. The small footprint of the Sympodium makes it easy to use a variety of premises, where the image can be directly projected up on to a screen or wall, for larger audiences. With a Sympodium interactive pen display placed on top of a podium, desk or table, Police officers can stand up and face their class while using the tethered pen to control, edit and annotate over computer-based material. Any projector connected to the ID250 then displays the ground’s plan view onto a larger screen or wall, so the other officers can easily follow along. Problem areas of the ground can be annotated over, to high light trouble spots, and areas for each group’s focus.

Staffordshire are also using SMART Ideas, the concept mapping application also from SMART Technologies. “For missing persons investigations the use of concept mapping is ideal” explains Simon. “Taking the missing person as the central point, we can drill down into the various eye witness accounts, suspects and location information. Being able to visualise it in this way offers a significant advantage to us.”

“The key point of successful Policing is collaboration and interaction. The more Officer’s, information and ideas that are bought together and interacted with, the more likely it is that we work successfully,” explains Simon. Being the leading manufacturer of interactive and collaborative technologies, all the products from SMART Technologies meet our working requirements. For this reason we are currently evaluating Bridgit, the data conferencing application also from SMART Technologies. Working from the SMART Board or computer, Officers in each of the eight Police Stations using Bridgit can see the same displayed information. Working collaboratively who ever takes control can annotate over the information, add to the information and pass control to others while others watch on from different locations. Simon explains the benefits. “Bridgit means that we can have our briefings by data conferencing, which adds to the flow of intelligence. Getting the information in real time can make such a difference to an investigation.”

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