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What’s Next for the Nationwide Public Safety LTE Network – And You

Today, many of us may be impatient for action on broadband mobile mission-critical communications, and understandably so. The call for a nationwide interoperable network for public safety has been heard for more than a decade. Now that Congress has passed legislation reallocating the 700 MHz D Block spectrum to public safety and providing $7 billion in grant money for the creation of such a system, the build-out can finally begin.

LTE is widely viewed as the key to unleashing “the power of the network” for the full scope of mission-critical communications. When it hits the streets for public safety, we’ll see dramatic and immediate changes.

For example, a sheriff might share a video of an escaping criminal and use predictive solutions to determine where he’s headed, then send squad cars to that site and quickly apprehend him. On another front, firefighters would benefit from a broadband network that pumps data to tablet computers, such as floor plans of burning buildings, to expedite rescues of trapped victims.

But nowhere will the benefits of LTE be more self-evident than in disaster situations. In recent years we’ve seen a rapid increase in the number and severity of both natural and man-made disasters that place enormous strains on first responder networks. These events, which always seem to come out of the blue, have earned the nickname “black swans,” from the title of a best-selling book by mathematician and investor Nassim Taleb. A “black swan,” in this instance, is a random or rare event thought to be highly improbable or even impossible – until it happens. In the public safety arena, examples of black swans are almost too numerous to mention, ranging from acts of God to acts of terror and violence.

Sometimes it takes a black swan to spur action for improvement. The tragic events of 9/11 as well as Hurricane Katrina certainly were the black swans that spurred action for the nationwide LTE network that’s starting to take shape.

But this change to LTE won’t take place all at once or across-the-board in all places, and it also won’t abandon other technologies that have proved their worth in certain areas.

A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says that while a public safety broadband network will likely enhance interoperability nd increase data transfer rates, it could take 10 years or more before LTE will be able to accommodate voice capabilities. That means land mobile radio (LMR) will remain the standard for mission-critical voice communications for a while yet. LMR has done a creditable job for years and has made many new improvements in the last decade. It’s gone from analog to digital, and is available as an IP network-based service. APCO P25 has also enabled much-improved interoperability between different LMR systems, provided enhanced functionality and ensured competition through open standards.

Choosing the right model for LTE will also be critical to the network’s success. The fallback position of using legacy, closed, proprietary approaches is still favored by a few, but this is an antiquated notion for mission-critical communications. Instead, we need a model that’s based on the following principles: non-proprietary, open architecture, standards-based, customer-owned (and with customer input on design), and above all, interoperable.

It’s generally agreed that interoperability will be among the greatest challenges in the evolution toward LTE. LMR, P25, LTE and, most likely, different flavors of each will all be in use at the same time because there’s no single technology that fits everybody’s needs. For a nationwide public safety broadband network to be fully effective, we’ll need a layered architecture that’s built to mission-critical specs – and is truly interoperable between locations and technologies.

Criminals face an uncertain future with Facewatch

Facewatch is the latest online development in the law-enforcement v criminals high-tech arms race with cops and robbers adapting new digital techniques to outwit each other.

New technologies present new opportunities for law enforcement agencies to catch and prosecute criminals – from Smartphones that can report themselves stolen to the increasingly sophisticated police use of social media for gathering intelligence, investigating crimes and establishing evidence.

Of course, the same technologies present new opportunities for criminals too who have used a number of online tools to try to avoid detection or target victims.

Facewatch is a  privately operated “National low level crime reporting and image sharing system for businesses”.

It operates as a website and an app, Facewatch id, with versions available for Android, Apple and Blackberry phones.

How it works

Once a business registers with Facewatch, it can upload details of any crimes straight on to the website with details, witness statements and, critically, CCTV evidence and images of any suspects.

There are a number of key components to the scheme:

  • Police have full access to all the crime report details.
  • Businesses can share images of suspects with either other branches of their company or other local businesses which have joined the same Facewatch group.
  • Members of the public can log on to the website or use the app to look at photos of local criminals and see if they recognise anyone.
  • Businesses can provide a full package of evidence in a convenient way.
I tried the Facewatch Id site out myself. Access is immediate with no delay for registration or other log-in processes.
I found 182 images of suspects within a 5 mile radius of my postcode, so the site is obviously being used extensively by local businesses and police.
Disappointingly, I did not recognise anyone but in approximately three quarters of cases, the image was easily clear enough for me to have made an identification if I’d known the person.

Does it work?

Facewatch is endorsed by the Association of Chief Probation Officers and has testimonials from the Met Police Commissioner, @ngargan_npia and others on its website. It currently works with the Met and Cheshire Police Forces with other forces showing interest.

The main test of its effectiveness will be whether members of the public use the site and app and identify local criminals who they then report to the police.

According to the @Facewatch twitter account, the early signs are promising:




My one area of concern is that it will be important that Facewatch does not duplicate the work of individual forces who are already routinely post similar photos and videos on their websites and Facebook pages.

It will be important to integrate Facewatch and Facewatch Id into local police sites where members of the public are more likely to be browsing.

When I looked at the Cheshire and Met Facebook pages there were still links to CCTV footage and stills on these, rather than a link to the  Facewatch system.

Let’s hope that if Facewatch becomes the national system for sharing images of suspects,  the two systems are integrated.


Crime Stoppers Social Media Making A Difference ~ Generating Success & Safety

#ThinkGlobal #ActLocal @CSIWorld

21st Annual Wisconsin State Crime Stoppers Meeting & Training Conference

Crime Stoppers USA are on the map for using social media for community success and safety after great conference April 27, 2012 in Wisconsin.

Making A Difference ~ Generating Success" Was Theme of 21st Annual Wisconsin State Crime Stoppers Inc Meeting & Training Conference in Lake Delton, Wisconsin April 27, 28, 2012

It was an honour to be able to present about social media for success and safety at the Wisconsin Crime Stoppers Conference in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin at Great Wolf Lodge. Some amazing positive outcomes happened for social media for success and safety worldwide to help stop, solve and PREVENT crime together. Themes of “think global” and “act local” were discussed at length with the audience by a number of presenters including Judge Richard Carter and Dave Perlman, Assistant Attorney General Training And Standards Bureau Wisconsin Department of Justice.

A Google Hangout was part of my presentation thanks to the collaborative work of community volunteers Mike Downes in United Kingdom, Jeff Brown in Truro, Nova Scotia, Rob Cairns in Toronto, Canada, and cops Paddy LeGrand and Henk Twit from The Netherlands.

Leah Lechleiter-Luke, Teacher Scott Abrams WI Crime Stoppers President & Chairman Crime Stoppers USA & Crime Stoppers Volunteer Jennifer Jennings Embraced Youth Engagement & Social Media For Success And Safety

We are speaking together after the conference sessions today learning how to use wordpress for our websites for Crime Stoppers programs. Talking with Catherine Mariscal of the Waukesha County Crime Stoppers program and Scott Abrams, the President of Wisconsin State Crime Stoppers Inc. and the Chairman of Crime Stoppers USA.

We are posting this blog to put all the videos that were streamed today, along with all of the presentations that are available into one link to share with others for the purpose of learning how the Internet and the real time web applies to changing saving lives locally and globally. We hope you enjoy our post and our videos.

If you want to share or repost this information, feel free to do so. We would be honoured.

For more information contact Scott Mills, Social Media Advisor to Crime Stoppers International.
Candle Lighted In Memory of Fallen Heroes

Video streaming by Ustream

“Crime Stoppers 101? With Director of Legal Services Crime Stoppers USA Judge Richard Carter

Legal Issues in Law Enforcement
Dave Perlman, Assistant Attorney General Training & Standards Bureau Wisconsin Department of Justice
Judge Richard Carter (Ret.) Crime Stoppers USA Legal Services Director

TipSoft – How It Works To Protect Anonymity For Crime Stoppers Programs
Troy S. Daniels, Deputy Chief, Champaign Illinois Police Department
Board Member Illinois State Crime Stoppers

Legal Issues In Law Enforcement | Dave Perlman Assistant Attorney General Training And Standards Bureau Wisconsin Department of Justice & Judge Richard Carter Crime Stoppers USA Legal Services Director

Video streaming by Ustream

Volunteerism and Social Media Saving Lives

Imagine opening up a social media platform and reading a post leading you to believe someone may be contemplating suicide – What would you do? This scenario recently landed in the lap of a teenage Colorado girl. It was no accidental discovery though; this young lady is part of a loosely knit group of people who form Compassion Alert on the microblogging website, Tumblr.com.  Tumblr is a site where people can post just about anything, like photos, videos, music, quotes, or basically anything impacting their lives.

Compassion Alert is a group and page formed on Tumblr to assist those contemplating suicide.  “Compassion Alert’s mission is to help Tumbloggers execute ‘reverse cyber-bullying’. We strive to let those who think they are alone know that they are not, with a strong focus on those who are considering suicide.”  The page was created by a 19-year-old young lady named Madden.  The page advises those contemplating suicide to seek professional and public safety assistance, immediately.  But, moreover, the page also acts as a message conduit to notify Compassion Alert’s followers about messages and posts by other Tumblr members, where indications of potential suicide or depression are present.  Messages are categorized by severity and then posted.  Compassion Alert members will acknowledge the post and advise if they can attempt communication with the depressed or suicidal individual. Their presence can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Like other members of Compassion Alert, our Colorado teen was volunteering her time to review and respond to alerts one evening, not too long ago.  She came across an alert that said a teenager had posted a photo and messages on Tumblr talking about committing suicide.  The Colorado girl looked further into the postings and was able to determine the suicidal teen possibly lived in Arcadia, CA.  Concerned for the safety of the suicidal teen, the volunteer called the Arcadia Police Department and reported the posts, asking the police for assistance.

The police dispatcher taking the call was not familiar with Tumblr, other than it was a social media platform.  The dispatcher took the information and sought the advice of a patrol supervisor, who was better versed in Tumblr.  The supervisor was able to cross-reference the possible victim’s information between Tumblr and Facebook, with other departmental resources, and located a friend of the victim. The victim’s friend was able to provide a home address for the victim. Officers went to the victim’s home and with the help of the victim’s parents, appropriate medical and professional assistance was obtained for the teen.

This story is a great example of volunteerism and caring at its best. From Madden taking time to create and monitor Compassion Alert, to the young Colorado teen caring enough to get involved, and to the teamwork displayed by public safety personnel, each individual deserves acknowledgement.  Job well done!  Thankfully, staff was familiar enough with social media to have a positive impact on this incident.  Take note public safety – train your personnel in new technology, terminology, and Internet based platforms used by your community.  Traditional response and investigative means for handling calls for service may not work in the virtual or Internet based society where we now live.

This incident is also an example of how social media can play a role in saving lives.  Many people share personal information about their lives quite openly on various social media platforms.  A good majority of this information can place persons in danger or perhaps cause them to be victimized by outsiders viewing the posts. Thankfully, the outsiders viewing this post and others like it were doing so while looking out for the safety of another.  In this case, social media and volunteerism contributed to quite possibly saving a life.  Great timing for this post since we are acknowledging the work of all volunteers this week as National Volunteer Week 2012.

Spring Cleaning: How to Restrict Visibility of Old Facebook Posts

… or selectively remove old posts from the new Facebook Timeline

Facebook has a new look. It’s called the Timeline and it’s a mandatory change for all profiles and pages.

In a previous social media quick tip, we covered how to add historical information to your agency’s timeline. This week we’ll cover how to remove posts from your Timeline.

We’ve all heard stories about police officers who posted something that got them into trouble or caused embarrassment to the department. If you’ve been on Facebook for a while, there’s a good chance that if you look back through old posts, there might be something there that will gain new scrutiny or compromise your safety or that of fellow officers.

There’s a lot of important information packed into this quick tip. Not only do we cover how to selectively remove or hide old posts. But we also cover how to restrict who can see old posts and comments that were previously viewable only by your friends. What’s quite alarming is that because of the way Facebook has implemented the Timeline, those posts are now viewable to everyone on the planet.

How to Selectively Remove or Hide Old Posts

Hover your cursor on the old post and you’ll see two little boxes appear in the upper right corner of the post. Select the drop-down menu at the pencil icon and you’ll see an opportunity to either hide post or delete post, as you wish.

If the unwanted post wasn’t made by you but it’s on your Timeline because someone else put it there by tagging you, you can remove it from your Timeline by going to the same drop-down menu and selecting remove tag. Similarly, if it’s on your Timeline because you selected like from another website, you can select unlike in the drop-down.

The other little box in the upper right corner has a star in it. If you select that button, it will highlight your post by widening it to appear the entire width of your Timeline.

How to Restrict the Visibility of Past Posts
Previous posts, comments, photos that you previously set to be viewable only by your friends are likely now viewable to the public. To restrict the visibility of all old posts to be viewable only by friends:

1. In the upper-right corner of your page, pull down to privacy settings.
2. Then select limit the audience for past posts.
3. Select limit old posts.

These are important steps to take to maintain officer safety and career survival.

This Social Media QuickTip was previously published on LawOfficer.com

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