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Is officer-worn video the next must-have police technology? Part II

Last week, I posted a blog regarding the increased use of officer-worn video technology in police departments. This post generated a few questions from govWin users about whether these devices constitute an invasion of privacy. While I am by no means a constitutional scholar, nor do I intend to champion either side of the argument, I would like to take a moment to highlight some of the issues raised.

One of the first things to consider when discussing possible compromises of privacy is whether situations captured by the cameras are really private in the first place. These cameras record police-to-citizen interaction from the point of view of the officer. For all intents and purposes, these interactions are "on the record" regardless of if they are recorded or not. Anything a citizen does or says could potentially end up in a police report, and the video helps to serve as an arbiter if there is a discrepancy between a citizen's account of a situation and the report.

The most comparable law enforcement technologies to officer-worn video are in-car video units. These devices, mounted on the dash of a police cruiser, generally record any activity that takes place while the light bar is engaged. It is easy to make the argument that if recording a traffic stop is not an invasion of privacy, then the same rule should apply to recording a stop that takes place on foot. These videos are usually considered public information and available via public records requests (obviously, this varies per jurisdiction).

One reason police officers I have spoken to say they want body-mounted cameras is because they are already being recorded by the public. A quick search on YouTube reveals dozens of violent encounters between officers and citizens recorded by passers-by with cell phone cameras. Officers feel these recordings tend to miss the catalysts to the confrontations and they would like to have their point of view considered alongside the cell phone videos.

While I have pointed out how these recordings can make both officers and citizens feel comfortable that neither party will act inappropriately while being recorded, it is also worth noting that increased surveillance makes many people uncomfortable. The idea that the government is actively recording their conversations with police officers will not sit well with those who view public surveillance and in-car video units as extensions of a big-brother state.

Successful vendors need to be aware that these questions exist and be prepared to respond to citizens' concerns of privacy. If these concerns surface after a blog posting, they will surely surface when a police department goes to the city council for funding approval.

For an in-depth look at the privacy implications of police technology, check out the International Chiefs of Police (IACP) report: Privacy Impact Assessment Report for the Utilization of License Plate Readers

Hawaii has Big Plans for Race to the Top Funds

The state of Hawaii, one of ten winners of the Department of Education's (DOE) Race to the Top (RTTT) initiative, was awarded $75 million to improve its schools. In its application, Hawaii laid out several courses of action it will implement to comply with criteria emphasized by the DOE.

In its application, Hawaii created a five-point plan for driving student success. The first of these points involves standards and assessments. Hawaii is one of 49 states that has committed to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which prepares students for their futures by developing internationally benchmarked K-12 standards in languages arts and mathematics. Beginning in the 2010-2011 school year, the Hawaii State Assessments (HSAs) will be conducted online instead of on paper. The online assessments will be conducive to the development of the Data for School Improvement (DSI) system, which will serve as an online repository for standards-aligned materials and assessment items.

Another point addressed in Hawaii's application is the use of longitudinal data systems. The Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) will enhance data collection from preschool through postsecondary education. This data can be used by teachers, administrators, leaders, and researchers to improve the effectiveness of educators and differentiate instruction based on student performance.

Hawaii understands that having great teachers and leaders will contribute to the success of its students, so the state also plans to focus on improving teacher and principal evaluations. Educator evaluations will be based on student success, including learning gains from the HSA, observed practice, and school-based leadership. Principal evaluations will be based on school-wide student growth, leadership, professionalism, managerial skills, and observations by peers and superintendents.

To improve its lowest-achieving schools, Hawaii plans to provide additional support to struggling students and schools. The HIDOE plans to create the Office of Strategic Reform (OSR) and help priority schools and zones of school innovation (ZSI) schools. The department will increase early childhood education support, expand student engagement efforts, and extend learning opportunities for ZSI students. The HIDOE will also address other issues impacting student success, including nonacademic obstacles.

Hawaii's final point is to obtain community and organizational support for reform. The state has already received commitments from the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) and the Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA), along with all of its public schools.

As it is early in the process, the HIDOE is still unsure of how it will proceed or what projects might result in procurement opportunities for vendors. GovWin will continue tracking Hawaii's progress and will post solicitations upon release.

North Carolina Gearing Up for Brand New AVS System

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released a request for proposals (RFP) for Asset Verification System (AVS) Project Management Services on October 26, 2010. As part of the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-252), modified Section 1940 of the Social Security Act (SSA), states are required to implement asset verification systems for medical assistance eligibility determination and redetermination. For that, North Carolina is expected to have a system in place by September 30, 2011. The state plans to implement a system that accepts responses via the Internet; establishes and maintains a database of financial institutions participating in the AVS; and assures security based on recognized industry standards of security.

The awarded project management vendor will provide services to the North Carolina Division of Medical Assistance. Per the RFP, services under the contract will include:

  • Maintaining a centrally managed and electronically accessible historical repository of project plans Assisting the NC Division of Medical Assistance, Project Management Section (NCDMA) in providing project management support services for the new AVS
  • Assisting NCDMA with gathering and documenting business requirements and development of an RFP for a design and implementation vendor for the new AVS
  • Assisting the NCDMA in evaluating proposals from prospective Vendors for the new AVS
  • Coordinating and overseeing the implementation of the new AVS once the design and implementation vendor has been awarded

Vendors interested in project management services for North Carolina's AVS must submit proposals by November 22, 2010. Other states planning to procure for AVS services include California, Nevada, Mississippi, and New Hampshire.

$345 million Maryland Public Safety Communications System contract to be awarded to Motorola

In what will be one of this year's most talked about contract awards for public safety and state and local markets, the state of Maryland is weeks away from signing a contract for the Statewide Public Safety Communications Interoperability System. On October 20, 2010, the Board of Public Works met with the State Comptroller to discuss this contract. The state deferred the signing of the contract until the Board of Public Works' meeting on November 3, 2010. The Comptroller plans to review the contract in greater depth to ensure everything is in line. The contract, once approved, would be valued at $345 million with a potential value of $485 million if fully executed. The contract is an eight-year deal with seven, one-year options, totaling 15 years.

This project has been a long time coming, not only for the state, but for the public safety market. It originally began in 2005 when the state released a solicitation for a consultant to help develop the requirements and proof of concept. RCC Consultants was awarded a $1.3 million contract in June 2006. After years of planning and development, the state finally went out to bid for the communications system in July 2008. A total of 134 people from 68 companies attended the pre-proposal conference. Though the solicitation was released in July 2008, proposals were not due until November 2008. This long procurement schedule was an indicator as to how long this project would take to award. After a protest by an unsuccessful vendor, the Board of Public Works reviewed the award during an October 20, 2010 meeting. As stated before, a contract is expected by November 3, 2010.

GovWin will provide more information on this contract once it is fully approved and signed by the state. For more information on this contract and its related documents, please see GovWin Opportunity #38311.

State CIO priorities focus on the many facets of efficiency

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) recently published its Top 10 IT priorities for 2011 from the perspective of state CIO members. Of course, it is always fun to look back at where you have been to better understand where you are going; so when we compare the priorities of now to those of years past, some overarching themes come to light.

Table 1

-- Not ranked as top 10 IT priority
* New IT priority
Source: GovWin and NASCIO

If you look at the top five priorities for 2011, we see consolidation/virtualization, cost control, health care, cloud computing, and shared services. Now, health care is a little different than the rest, but at the end of the day, the top five are all about saving money while increasing and improving services to citizens with flat or reduced resources. Data centers have always been a priority for state CIOs and they continue to dominate state discussions around virtualization, consolidation, and private clouds. The pressure of the economic downturn and the resulting revenue shortfalls for state governments are pushing state IT organizations to focus on finding foundational efficiencies. This, in combination with network and software advancements, is creating new opportunities for leveraging and collaborating with historically siloed governments.

Table 2

-- Not ranked as top 10 IT technology
* New IT technology
Source: GovWin and NASCIO

NASCIO also inquires with its members about their top 10 priority technologies. Similar to the IT priorities, the technology priorities address opportunities of finding efficiency in the IT enterprise, whether it be through virtualization, cloud computing, voice and data communication modernizations, or the combination of these and other IT priorities.

This time next year, I expect we will see many different CIOs, but similar top IT priorities, with the possible addition of one or two political hot topics. I say this in hopes that the lasting effects of this economic downturn will include an understanding of technology's role in government and government efficiency, and the expectation that every technology dollar spent be leveraged to its fullest to help government work flows.

Illinois Senate Bill 51 (P.A. 96-795): Extreme Transparency?

In response to the seemingly never-ending scandals involving Illinois' political figures, one of the first things Gov. Quinn tackled after taking over former Gov. Blagojevich's office was government ethics. In April 2009, the Reform Commission issued a report detailing numerous ways that Illinois could achieve a better, more transparent government. The Illinois legislature passed Senate Bill 51 (PA 96-795) in November 2009, and Senate Bill 3576 – (PA95-971) the "Trailer Bill" – in June 2010. The acts went into effect July 1, 2010. SB 51 makes significant revisions to the Illinois Procurement Code and places new requirements on vendors and bidders. PA95-971 establishes certain registration requirements and campaign contribution restrictions for state vendors and bidders. In essence, the bills were a follow up to the "pay-to-play" laws that went into effect in January 2009, and the goal of them was to increase transparency in Illinois contracting.

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(Subscription to GovWin State & Local Industry Analysis required.)

A quick look at the California Public Safety Radio Communication Strategic Plan

This week, the California Office of the Chief Information Officer released the California Public Safety Radio Communication Strategic Plan . In my opinion, this is a must-read document for anyone doing business in the California public safety communications marketplace. Communications strategic planning documents tend to be dry and technical, but this plan is a fairly easy read that provides a look at the current structure of state-level public safety communications and offers a vision for the future. Below are a few highlights of the plan that interested parties may want to familiarize themselves with.

Three main visions of the plan:

System-of-systems vision:

  • Link individual radio systems together to expand interoperability

Consolidation vision:

  • Reduce total number of radio systems

Governance vision:

  • Define a single entity responsible for statewide public safety radio

Individual agency highlights:

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR):

  • Replace/upgrade all institution radio systems

California Department of Justice (DOJ):

  • Move to P25 digital operations

California Department of Transportation (CalTrans):

  • Complete transition to 800 MHz radio

When it comes to public safety technology, the state of California is by no means short on planning and ambition, but it is short on money. It is no secret that the economic downturn has hit California particularly hard. Despite these difficulties, California has patience on its side. Many of the procurements planned to develop this system-of-systems fall into the 10 year section of the plan, which should provide time for state tax revenues to rebound.

As the GovWin analyst responsible for covering justice and public safety technology in California, this strategic plan will serve as my own personal strategic plan for the coming year. While I continue to comb through the plan to identify and qualify new business opportunities, GovWin members can expect to see more California opportunities showing up in their search results.

Passage of the Coast Guard Authorization Bill Opens the Way for Service Reorganization

Signed into law on October 15, 2010, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 authorizes major appropriations for the operation of the service in FY 2011.

Major appropriations include:

  • Operation and maintenance - $6.9 billion;
  • Acquisition, construction, rebuilding, and improvement of aids to navigation - $ 1.6 billion;
  • Integrated Deepwater System Program - $1.2 billion;
  • Shore facilities and aids to navigation - $100 million;
  • Research, development, test, and evaluation of technologies, materials, and human factors - $29 million;
  • Alteration or removal of bridges over navigable waters of the United States - $16 million;
  • Environmental compliance and restoration at Coast Guard facilities $13 million; and
  • Coast Guard Reserve program - $135 million.

In addition to setting agency appropriation levels, the bill also sets authorization levels for a number of service specific functions such as:

  • Shipping and Navigation;
  • Acquisition Reform;
  • Acquisition Reform;
  • Marine Safety;
  • Oil Pollution and Prevention;
  • Port Security; and
  • Coast Guard Modernization.

A significant piece of the legislation is the modernization authority, which will allow the Coast Guard the ability to complete its organization realignment in order to better fulfill its various maritime related missions.

Also under the act, the Commandant is to establish and acquisition directorate that will implement and manage all USCG acquisition processes, programs, and projects. USCG's current acquisition services were established only a few years and the final pieces of the service have not yet been put into place according Directorate's USCG Blueprint for Continuous Improvement:

Information concerning USCG, including contract opportunities, organization charts, and acquisition data is available via GovWin's Agency Profiles and Account Planner products.

New media and the courts: What does the future hold?

In August 2010, attendees of the Conference of Court Public Information Officers (CCPIO) developed a new report that outlines the future of new media and the national court system. The CCPIO has a partnership with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. The report was first presented in September at the CCPIO's annual meeting in Atlanta, Ga.

The CCPIO recognizes the changing landscape of media across the country and knows that understanding the various types of media is essential to remain at the forefront of technology. The new media project and subsequent report cover the following points: defining the current technology; examining ways the court can use this technology; empirically measuring the perceptions of judges and top court administrators toward the technology; collecting and analyzing the literature on public perceptions of judiciary and court outreach programs; and offering a framework and analysis for court officials and judges to utilize and appropriately use this new media.

The overwhelming results of the surveys and extensive research revealed that new media presents both challenges and immense opportunity. Over the next decade and beyond, social media will provide improvements, along with disputes. One future trend is that more state courts will need to reexamine the rules of social media use in the court environment. Courts and judges will need to develop campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other outlets in order to stay relevant. Micro-blogging, RSS feeds, and other tools will be something courts must use to engage citizens.

Over the next year or so, there will likely be a shift in how courts and public information officers utilize social media. It will be intriguing to monitor this change and see if the social media transition becomes for fluid as courts become more informed and better equipped.

GAO findings: Byrne/JAG Recovery Act Grant Program

On October 15, 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released report GAO-11-87, titled "Recovery Act: Department of Justice Could Better Assess Justice Assistance Grant Program Impact." The report examines the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's (ARRA) Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance's Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne/JAG recovery grant) program. The report assesses how the funds were awarded; challenges in awarding the funds; the extent to which states shared promising practices; and the performance measures used by the DOJ. Nearly $2 billion in four-year grant funds were distributed to state and local governments through the Byrne/JAG program.

The GAO reviewed 14 states awarded a combined total of more than $1 billion, either through direct allocations from the DOJ or pass-through funds that states originally received. These recipients reported using their funds predominantly for law enforcement and corrections, but also for equipment purchases and the hiring or retaining of personnel. More than half of the funding that state administering agencies (SAA) passed to localities was reported to be specifically for law enforcement and corrections activities, while localities receiving direct awards more often reported plans to utilize funds for multiple types of criminal justice activities. Nearly $270 million, or 26 percent, of the Byrne/JAG recovery grant funds were reported as expended as of June 30, 2010.

As far as challenges go, many state officials cited issues with meeting quarterly reporting time frames. These challenges were in part due to lack of personnel and heavy workloads. More than half of the states reported sharing promising practices or lessons on topics, such as grant management and administration, with other states and localities.

The DOJ is currently working to refine newly established performance measures to assess the Byrne/JAG recovery grant program. The GAO identified some issues with these measures, such as clarity, reliability, a linkage of strategic or programmatic goals, and objectivity and measurability of targets. In order to fix this, the GAO recommends the DOJ (1) continue to revise the Byrne/JAG recovery grant program's performance measures and consider, as appropriate, including key attributes of successful performance measurement systems, and (2) develop a mechanism to validate the integrity of self-reported performance data.

So, what does this all mean for the vendor community? First, vendors should work closely with their government clients to help plan, develop, and write grant applications. Not only will this give the vendor a leg up in the buying process, but it will also provide the vendor with key information on performance and reporting measures for the grant program. Second, vendors should continue to engage with clients after the initial buying process to ensure the client is meeting the grant program's requirements. If the agency does not adhere to grant guidelines and reporting measures, there is a chance the money could be retracted, which could potentially result in a canceled contract. Lastly, continued involvement in the performance and reporting process will help the client feel more comfortable buying more of your product or service the next time they are awarded funding.

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