LaserFiche thinks it has weapons in its arsenal that police departments throughout the country can use to better fight terrorism…but not the kind you might first imagine. The weapons are document imaging and management software tools and the secret to getting more crime fighters to take advantage of them is education.
The software provider is currently offering a free series of Web-based training seminars that it says are intended to help police officials learn how to create repositories of "actionable intelligence" for homeland security and other criminal matters. Lack of such intelligence was recently cited by the 9-11 Commission as a serious impediment to immediate action against potential terrorists. But LaserFiche director of government programs John Devine points out that actionable intelligence is something that extends far beyond homeland security; actionable intelligence is needed for a wide range of law enforcement goals—not just counter-terrorism.
Devine defines actionable intelligence as reliable information (made available to authority figures) that clearly and unquestionably warrants a response. "Taking advantage of actionable intelligence means having access to critical records at a critical moment," Devine says. And while other technologies may be flashier, document management software is a powerful tool to that end. As an example, he relates the following hypothetical scenario:
There is a fire at a commercial building. Fire police are dispatched. Enroute—thanks to LaserFiche software and wireless technology—fire police can use integrated GIS software to get the exact coordinates of the location. The LaserFiche database also tells them that the building contains hazardous materials. They can then call up a floor plan of the building, which shows them that these hazardous materials are stored in the northeast corner of the building. Fire police then know which area of the building to respond to first and what kind of safeguards they must take to best protect the community and themselves.
While this doesn't depict a terrorist incident, Devine points out that it is an example of actionable intelligence and how document management systems can provide the sort of fast access to critical information that can save lives.
Because the company believes that educated crime fighters will more effectively leverage technology, LaserFiche launched its actionable intelligence Webinar series with three sessions in August that drew up to 40 participants each, including both current LaserFiche users as well as LaserFiche neophytes. The complimentary seminars are intended to be somewhat introductory and inspirational, according to Devine. The company wants to show participants what is possible with document management in general and LaserFiche in particular. "Our intent is to continually educate current and potential members of our family and to help them move forward and find ways to use document management software to work more efficiently," says Devine.
Education and evangelism has always been a big part of LaserFiche's document imaging business and always will be, says Devine. These Web seminars are an attempt to take advantage of the latest media delivery technologies. "We're getting more electronic with our delivery," says Devine. He notes that he typically conducts about 70 live workshops and seminars per year though the company plans to offer more electronic delivery of LaserFiche education in the future.
The Web classes discuss various municipal technology topics, including tips for integrating an imaging platform with technology applications already in place, and steps to creating an actionable intelligence program in a community. System engineer session leaders also demonstrate specific capabilities of the LaserFiche software. For example, one recent Web seminar summarized the different ways agencies can use LaserFiche document management to secure and route records.
Other recent session topics included adding sticky-note-style annotations to electronic documents, using the LaserFiche Quick Fields capture tool to automatically identify and file documents, and how law enforcement agencies can use the LaserFiche Workflow Manager to create sets of rules for how documents are shared and modified.
LaserFiche plans to continue offering these free actionable intelligence online seminars at the rate of about three per month. Also, individual LaserFiche resellers (of which there are 1,000 worldwide) may be scheduling the education sessions on their own and promoting them locally. And with this education, the company hopes to help crime fighters do the most with the tools technology offers them.