A mountain of personal information about specific individuals frequently resides in a wide range of commercial databases, but until recently, police departments across the country have been unable to access much of that information, or make sense of it quickly enough to use in their day-to-day crime-fighting work.
That is about to change.
Intrado Inc. , a subsidiary of West Corp., and a provider of 9-1-1 technology solutions, announced in August that Beware, its latest tool in public safety intelligence designed to quickly alert responders to potentially deadly and dangerous situations while en route, or at the location of a scene.
Beware uses a patent-pending algorithm to search, sort and score commercial records from LexisNexis Risk Solutions about the people, locations, vehicles and properties relevant to a specific 9-1-1 call. This data is then aggregated, correlated and presented as incident intelligence in an easy-to-read and interactive, Web-based format complete with threat scores, headlines and "Be Aware" statements -- all in a matter of seconds.
Steve Lowe, senior vice president and general manager for Intrado, told Government Security News during a phone interview last month that this kind of information is already being utilized on a regular basis by commercial businesses, such as insurance companies, law firms, entitlement organizations and credit bureaus, but rarely by police departments. “The sad thing is this hasn’t been available until now to law enforcement,” Lowe told GSN.
Intrado collaborated closely with LexisNexis and other commercial data providers to seamlessly integrate relevant information into this powerful public safety tool. And, because Beware is a cloud-based solution that can be securely accessed anywhere with an Internet connection, this critical information is available on any Internet-enabled device, including tablets, smart phones, laptops and desktop PCs.
Law enforcement agents can use this personal information in all sorts of ways. For example, Lowe described a situation in which a man was holding his girlfriend and her daughter hostage in their home. Police knew the location of the dangerous situation, but wanted to talk with the distraught man before trying to enter the home and arrest him. They had the phone number of the home phone, but no one answered when they called that number. By using Beware’s deep reach into commercial databases, they were able to identify the captive woman’s cell phone number and placed a call to her inside the house. That began a dialogue which eventually led to the resolution of the sensitive situation. It was an instance, noted Lowe, in which police accessed commercial databases for straight-forward, practical information that could be put to immediate use. “We’re not out to find deep dirt on a person,” he told GSN.
Intrado has entered into an agreement with Intergraph to include Beware within its computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and mobile applications. By using Intergraph's CAD and mobile applications along with Beware, public safety agencies can benefit from commercial intelligence throughout the entire 9-1-1-call flow. This will enable the correlated commercial intelligence gathered and displayed by Beware to be accessible throughout the entire event continuum from the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) through first responders. Whether information is associated with automatic location identification (ALI), automatic number identification (ANI), license plate information, address intelligence or social media hits, all personnel involved in the call are aware of any important information and potential danger.
Perhaps most importantly, added Lowe, of Intrado, the vast amount of data that is available through a welter of nationwide databases is quickly analyzed and summarized, so it can be provided to a police officer on-the-street in a digestible format. “You can’t send 100 pages to a first responder,” said Lowe. “It has to be peeled back to a series of actionable headlines.”
The City of Thornton Police Department in Colorado is the first public safety agency in the country to pilot the Beware solution. Lowe told GSN that the Thornton PD had used the personal information to enhance its code enforcement work (for example, by determining the ownership of 15 cars parked on one homeowner’s front lawn, or requiring another homeowner to trim his trees), and to help sort out potentially suspicious behavior (by responding to a call about lights going on at a home whose owner was supposedly on vacation, after quickly determining the identity of the homeowner.)
Beware from Intrado is the first incident intelligence tool to provide PSAPs and first responders with access to billions of commercial data records, such as vehicle ownership, permits, property records, relatives, purchases, Internet and social media activities.
Beware uses a comprehensive, patent-pending, Web-search algorithm that scans commercial data provided by LexisNexis and presents it as actionable intelligence, complete with threat scores, in an easy-to-read headlined format-all within seconds of an initial query.
Beware can be included with Intergraph's I/CAD and mobile applications to share its call-related intelligence in real time throughout an entire agency's operation including the PSAP, first responders, field commanders and the records management system (RMS).
Beware provides responders considerably more information about people, places and properties than what may be available to the PSAP or found in local, state and/or federal criminal databases.
Beware is a cloud-based service that can be securely accessed through any browser (fixed or mobile) on any Internet-enabled device including tablets, smart phones, laptops and desktop computers.
“In a country where a police officer is killed every 53 hours, I am glad to see companies like Intrado, LexisNexis and Intergraph working together to provide solutions that make a difference in the safety of our nation's responders and citizens,” said Mike Wallace, communications center manager for the City of Thornton Police Department. “We are an Intrado call-handling and Intergraph CAD customer, so we were very excited to be the first public safety agency in the country to pilot the Beware solution. This solution works as described and is providing a whole new level of information to our officers.”
One might imagine that the nearly-instantaneous availability to police of a slew of personal information about ordinary citizens might invoke fears of “Big Brother” at work, but Intrado’s Lowe has not seen such a reaction. “We have not gotten any blowback,” he told GSN.
Instead, Lowe said he detected strong support for this new information-sharing capability, adding, “People will be pleased that it is used by law enforcement to save lives.”