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Top 11 Public Safety Tech Leaders to Watch

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Ahsan BaigDeputy Chief Information OfficerOakland, California

While police departments around the nation are looking for ways to monitor performance, the city of Oakland, California, has developed a solution called the Performance, Reporting, and Information & Metrics Environment (PRIME) enterprise platform.

The city said the tool automates workflows, reduces paperwork, improves efficiency, saves on costs and enhances data accuracy. Real-time dashboards and reports that integrate data from more than a dozen data sources, including use of force, training and vehicle pursuit databases and applications, give the police department a deeper understanding of how officers are behaving.

City Chief Information Officer Ahsan Baig said the new tool will give the Oakland Police Department (OPD) a holistic view of officer performance.

"PRIME provides powerful insights on at-risk officer behavior, enabling early intervention," Baig said. "Intended to serve as a 'scientific supervisory tool' for managers, the goal of PRIME is not to castigate personnel, but rather uncover problems early, when issues can be positively addressed."

Baig cited strong executive support and inter-departmental collaboration between the city IT department, OPD, the mayor’s office, the city administrator’s office, and the city attorney’s office as key factors in the project's success.

Why is this project important?

Following the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, the City of Oakland began working in 2014 to replace its outdated Internal Personnel Assessment System (IPAS) and related police officer performance assessment systems. The new Performance, Reporting, and Information Metrics Environment (PRIME) is a modern, integrated cloud-based police performance monitoring and assessment system with a centralized data repository.

Being an OPD officer is a tough job, and PRIME helps ensure police officers are getting the training, mentoring, recognition and other support they need to be successful.

Because PRIME uses a comprehensive data management platform, OPD is able to ensure that all its police officer assessment data is protected, improving the availability of this mission-critical system. The platform also indexes all the data, making searches for relevant data easier. Finally, the platform’s powerful data federation and governance capabilities make compliance with data privacy, retention and other regulations more efficient.

With PRIME, the City of Oakland secures more accurate, comprehensive and efficient officer performance assessment, more professional police behavior and stronger public trust in the city’s police.

How do you imagine this project developing in the next couple of years?

In the future, officer body worn camera video footage will be integrated into the system, enabling staff and officers to view relevant video inline in PRIME during performance reviews. Moreover, integration of body worn camera video will also enable analysis of audio from officer interactions with community residents, providing further insight on officer performance. The City of Oakland also plans to use machine learning technologies built into Azure Government to use PRIME to secure additional insight through behavior correlations.

PRIME is enabling more professional policing in the city of Oakland, by providing OPD staff and officers with faster, more accurate and more comprehensive visibility on police officer performance. At-risk officer behavior can be quickly identified and early intervention — including additional training, coaching, monitoring or other support — provided to the officer, improving performance and reducing the probability that further at-risk behavior results in citizen complaints, an expensive lawsuit, or an erosion in public trust in the police department.

In addition, with PRIME positive behavior can be more easily and effectively recognized, encouraging officers to engage in more professional and responsible policing that strengthens the relationship between the community and the police.


William JohnsonCommissioner, Public WorksAtlanta, Georgia

Atlanta’s Public Works Commissioner and Deputy Chief Operating Officer William Johnson has an intimate knowledge of infrastructure and emergency management. 

His resume includes more than 20 years of experience with time spent as the director of transportation in Baltimore, where he managed snow and weather emergency operations and as the prime contractor to Florida’s department of Transportation. In Atlanta, Johnson has applied his technical know-how in the development of a smart city lighting system that is intended to decrease crime and prevent dangerous driving. 

The infrastructure upgrades under his watch include gunshot detection sensors, cameras for surveillance, and brighter lighting for safer streets.

Why is this project important?

DPW realizes the need for lighting which supports public safety. Presently, the City of Atlanta (COA) does not possess the capability to monitor light performance from its street lights. If a light is not functioning, [the Department of Public Works] discovers the issue through a notification from COA constituents as opposed to a DPW resource. The new lighting will allow DPW to collect additional points of data from street lights, including license plate numbers, people counters, shot spotters (so we can identify where shots may have been fired in the city), traffic signal issues, and more.

How do you imagine this project developing in the next couple of years?

This new technology will advance Atlanta’s Smart City portfolio and data-driven decision making through use of established and emerging technologies (i.e. public safety applications, environmental sensors, parking applications).

The project will also reduce energy consumption or offset future energy consumption and expand right-of-way (ROW) service life. Smart lights will also maintain or improve the design and visual aesthetics of the city, and will extend the service life cycle of products/assets from four years to ten years, or 50,000 hours. We will have the ability to collect data and analyze trends. The leadership in this city are looking at ways to make Atlanta attractive for business, investment and people who want to live here.


Mike KrantzCaptainPortland, Oregon Police Bureau

Transparency is about trust and effective decision making. It's that simple for Portland's Police Bureau Capt. Mike Krantz who announced the city's newest crime map last month.

The map, which details where and when specific crimes are occurring, enables citizens and city staff to have a better understanding of crime in the place they live. Speaking for the department, Krantz said officers saw the map, and the data behind it, as a new and possibly invaluable tool to aid police and neighborhood organizations in improving their communities. People know which neighborhood has the most drug activity, where prostitution is happening and the overall trends in criminal activity. 

"It was just the right thing to do," Krantz said. "We're trying to be transparent and build a relationship with the community, but it's really hard to do that if you're trying to hold all your data and not provide it to folks so they can figure out what's going on in their own neighborhoods without us having to tell them all the time."

On a bigger scope, Krantz said, the benefits of transparency piece is much larger than any risk of potential data misuse.

Why is this project important?

Two positives from this. The first is transparency and knowing what's going on, but then also the ability for people to download the data and then determine how they'd like to use it. I imagine there will be a lot of different outcomes from it, with people discovering things that we don't discover or use it for different things that we don't use it for. Internally, we assess the data to determine resources and where we should put folks and what missions we should do, but this is more of the external-looking data that hasn't been available before, open data that residents can now use.

When we launched this, it did take several months for our folks here, and they worked very hard to get it launched fairly quickly for what it is. 

How do you imagine this project developing in the next couple of years?

This is really just the beginning. We're planning on putting a substantial amount of additional data on there. So it's going to keep being updated, and not only reported crime stats, but we're always going to be trying to find anything we can that we can put out there. We'll have our use of force data be downloadable, include our officer-involved shooting data and we're working on the demographics data of our organization. Like I said, this is just the right thing to do in policing, it should be the future of policing, and we need to be as open as we can.


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