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City leaders evaluating next step in tech pilot programs

In July, to help the El Cajon Police Department in pilot projects to maximize the effectiveness of existing police department staff, the city’s smart initiative El Cajon 2.O requested Request for Innovation.

Its interest is ways to utilize artificial intelligence, drones, sensors, other innovative technology to improve the police department’s efficiency in its ability to respond to calls, be alerted when crime is suspected in a public space, or to aid in the investigation of reported crimes.

On Oct. 26, IT Director Sara Diaz came back to the city council with feedback from the community, the city received 10 proposals, evaluated by a committee of city staff, and asked council for direction on which of the top proposals were identified as potential pilot programs. A key component to the El Cajon 2.0 Strategic Plan is providing outside input for potential solutions to assist in the response and services provide by the city’s fire and police departments.

Project proposals were encouraged with a no-cost or low-cost pilot project under $25,000.

Once a pilot program is complete, the city may reevaluate the program to a full implementation of a modern technology.

Projects were given a weighted score based on project overview, stage of development, deployment rate, technical specifications, business model, self-evaluation, and legal framework.

Diaz said as staff went through the process looking at synergies of its police department, they found some proposals rose to the top.

She said staff was looking at moving forward with discussions with Motorola Solutions, Qualcomm Smart Cities Team, Radix Metasytems, Inc., and Tyler Technologies, Inc. that focused on various technologies they thought could really be effective in the police department.

“Those include video management systems that incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning. The remote launching of drones. Solar powered License Plate Recognition on city sites, and to take some of the personalization and manual data entry used for billing in Public Works. Electronic data consolidation and electronic citations,” she said.

Diaz said they want to put citations on a phone to make the interaction friendlier, reduce data entry, schedule court date easier, and minimize the impact of a ticket to people in the community.

Diaz said that Radix offered a free limited time trial of its Nighthawk LEOVision software, a data consolidation tool.

“When there is an investigation, it used to be you go out and talk to people, gather evidence, search warrants,” she said. “With cell phones and social media, that process has exploded. We are now looking at hundreds to thousands of pages in returns when investigators request through search warrants of phone records, social media, what we are finding is that the data is getting so big that sitting down, reading it, and having the brainpower to make connections is getting inefficient. It is beyond inefficient.”

Diaz said in a recent case prior to July, four investigators personally read 100,000 pages of social media posts for five separate individuals that took them 350 hours. She said what Nighthawk does, is take all the uploaded data into the computer and it does a link analysis that looks for commonality.

“The return on investment with this is phenomenal, going from 350 hours to 20,” she said. “It pays for the software in just one case, and we have already used in on 11 cases since July. In talking to the investigators what we found that it is not just the individual cases that we are speeding up, but we are finding linkages between cases. Nighthawk was able to find a link between multiple homicide cases that referenced a street name in a text here, and a text there. We were able to make connections that we would have missed if they had just read through this.”

Diaz said Nighthawk was able to show suspects at the scene of a crime through GPS, and it found connections in several burglary cases.

“This is a perfect example of what we want to see in an El Cajon 2.0 pilot,” she said. “We wanted to have a limited scope, and we want to see metrics out of it that really say that this technology is a game changer. With Nighthawk, we were able to do that.”

Diaz said the next steps for the El Cajon 2.0 committee is to go back to these vendors and reevaluate the scope of these pilots and zero in on the technologies that matter to the city, working out the pilots, get them going and evaluating them before the next budget process.

City Manager Graham Mitchell said the city had some American Rescue Plan Act funds for some of the projects, but that there are many recording streams attached in the use of that money, so some of the projects may preclude the use of ARPA funds.

City Council had no changes in staff’s recommendations.

City leaders evaluating next step in tech pilot programs

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Source: East County Californian

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