(Photo courtesy Tandberg Public Sector)
Video conferencing technology in the past five years has become easier to implement, and far more economical.
FEATURED IN TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
Despite recent economic data suggesting the worst may be over, the economic situation in our country remains dire. Citizens are hurting, and so are the state and local institutions that serve the public.
Public safety organizations are suffering immensely. Painful cuts are being made across the country, from California to Massachusetts, Broward County to Toledo, Ohio. And, the Supreme Court recently ruled that forensic experts can now be required to testify in-person, rather than sign affidavits. This will potentially flood court dockets and break prosecution budgets already stretched by the recession.
In this environment, video conferencing is having a big impact on criminal justice. Video conferencing technology in the past five years has become easier to implement, and far more economical. It's being used right now to stretch vital resources and better protect the public. Following are examples of counties and cities making every dollar count through the deployment of video technology.
Collin County, Texas
For Collin County courts, the use of video technology is delivering a host of benefits that make it a popular addition to the court system.
We've seen some cost savings in vehicles, not having to transport prisoners back and forth, said Sheriff Terry Box.
There's also a cost associated with having prosecutors spread out to multiple courts rather than just concentrated into one court, District Judge John Roach Jr. added.
Further savings are realized, said Justice of the Peace Paul Raleeh, because the sheriff doesn't have to expend personnel to safeguard the transportation of prisoners back and forth to the courtrooms.
We still have to have someone walk that person into the video arraignment room, Box said. He also understands that a big part of security is the planning and logistics around the transfer. We're not having the logistics of planning to have people here to pick up, bring back, and transfer prisoners back into our system. Booking in, booking out, and going to court now there's no chance of an inmate escaping while being transferred to court.
Click here and take a look at a video detailing how Collin County is using video.
San Antonio, TX
Recently KSAT, the ABC affiliate in San Antonio, Texas, ran a story about another use of video that saves time, money and maybe lives. Tandberg has equipped the San Antonio police department with video conferencing to speed up the granting of search warrants. Previously it often took three hours or more for police to secure warrants. Now, it can take only a few minutes thanks to a PC video conferencing solution called Movi. All you need is a PC with a webcam (built-in or peripheral) and an Internet connection, and then it s as easy to use as making a phone call.
Five judges are Movi-equipped so far, and the city plans on all judges soon having the ability to administer an oath online, sign the warrants digitally and help police respond faster. All warrants are reviewed as before, but the police save time in going after suspects.
You can imagine the time and expense saved by this approach.Or you can check out the video for yourself by clicking here.
The fire department in Charlotte has been using video conferencing to improve training procedures and reduce response times. It's been such a success that the technology has spread to other agencies within the city.
The biggest impact I've seen is the improved sharing of information, and how much more productive and real-time our interactions can be, says Jeff Dulin, deputy chief, Charlotte Fire Department. It helps us make the right decisions, working together.
The adoption of video conferencing saved money and also greatly improved the coordination between the fire department and the police bomb squad.
What video has done is help develop partnerships and relationships from the ground level up, all the way to the chiefs, said Jim Windle, commander, Charlotte/Mecklenburg Bomb Squad. That s highly unusual in organizations our size.
The City of Charlotte is also incorporating video conferencing for its business continuity planning.Click here for the full story.
More and more public safety organizations are following the lead of these departments. It's imperative in the current economic environment to save as much revenue as possible. However, the efficiencies gained by integrating video in your public safety processes will pay dividends long after the current recession has passed. There will be no going back once you experience the benefits training, safety, cost savings, convenience of video conferencing.
Scott Feinberg is the public sector market manager at Tandberg Public Sector.