In public safety, there are plenty of things to think about from day to day. One of the less glamorous, but certainly still very important, things is the proper way to collect and store information that is accurate, accessible and available in a records management system (RMS). That ensures your police officers in the field, dispatchers in the 911 center, or county and city administrators can always access the right information at the right time.
Law enforcement officers today are asked to do a lot more out on the road than ever before, and in order to make the right decisions, they need to have as much information as possible. If you are still storing your information on a server that can only be accessed from your physical location, officers in the field are at a significant disadvantage.
The inability to get information quickly and efficiently:
- Consumes staff time and resources to help officers who need information while responding to a call;
- Doesn’t allow data sharing in real-time among field units, which can cause delays that increase the risk of danger and injury to officers and the public;
- Causes delays in reporting after an incident occurs, which makes it harder for departments to plan and adapt efficiently.
In addition, the right software will have built-in interfaces with state and national databases, such as UCR and IBR, and will work seamlessly with all types of operating systems and databases to avoid the need for manual data transfer between systems or time lost when interfaces don’t connect as they should.
The Right Data and Reports
Making split-second decisions is a daily occurrence for police officers and other public safety professionals, and it’s important that those decisions can be made using accurate and complete data. With the right information available in an easy-to-read and easy-to-digest format, officers make more informed decisions that not only enhance the safety of the public, but enhance their own safety as well.
Choose a public safety software records management system (RMS) that allows you to customize your dashboard with things like current casework, reports, incidents underway, training and certification for officers, and more. Reporting should be seamless as well, providing officers and administrators with tools to ensure they have the right information entered and reports will be accepted without the need for frequent or ongoing revisions—everything from incident reports to civil actions, and even personnel information for your human resource managers.
In addition, think about not only what you need right now, but what you might want to use in the future, and plan accordingly. For example, will you want officers to use smartphones and tablets in the future? If so, make sure your RMS provides mobile capabilities or the opportunity to add those features.
Intuitive User Experience
Ease of use is one of the most important features for a records management software program. After all, the best software in the world is useless if your officers can’t figure it out.
As you’re evaluating RMS programs, find out what the user interface looks like, how easy it is for officers to learn and use, and how easy it is to retrieve information once inside the system.
Data Transfer & Backup
Finally, before choosing a new RMS, check to make sure the company you’re considering is upfront with you on two things:
- Data migration. Transferring data from an old system to a new one is never a smooth process. It rarely produces the results that everyone expects. And often leaves both the agency and the vendor frustrated with each other in the process. Primarily because everyone’s expectations are vastly different. If you plan to go this route, be sure the vendors you’re considering are candid with you about both the challenges and the benefits of migrating your data.
- Data backup. It’s important to protect your information once it’s in the system from unforeseen disasters, both natural and man-made. Talk to vendors about how they secure that data and the options available in the event of an emergency.
Choosing the right RMS system is critical to the safety of your citizens, your law enforcement officers, fire and rescue personnel, and other public safety officers. If your current RMS isn’t helping you manage your records well enough, find out how eFORCE Software can help.