The Email Problem: How Communication Becomes a Force-Multiplier
By Rob Wolf
Vice President, NC4 Public Safety
Law Enforcement faces tremendous external pressure to fight crime with fewer officers due to budget cuts, but the problem that ultimately creates the most chaos and inefficiency for police departments isn't human resources. The most frustrating adversary of Police Departments everywhere is slow interdepartmental communication. Technology can bridge the gap, but too often only email is used as a technological catch-all for information dissemination - needs that might be better met through blogging or bulletins. While reductions in staff are oftentimes outside a department's control, choosing a technology to speed interdepartmental communication can fill the crime-fighting gap caused from a lack of staff.
Email is the preferred communication method of many police departments because it is both secure and more accessible than notes written at the end of a shift or verbal communication among officers. Email, however, is not without disorganization. For most people, combing through the clutter and noise of emails to find an important message is a nuisance. For cops, the process of wading through inboxes can prove more severe: the potential of missing a piece of critical information can prove life-changing to an officer. Past details of a case can be buried in an inbox after new case details emerge. Old emails often go to the inbox's archive, making them difficult to find after weeks have passed. The time consumed trying to find emails wastes the time of an already lean workforce, slows communication, and potentially leaves cases unsolved and criminals at large. Essential case details may never resurface even though they are in a police officer's possession somewhere in their inbox.
Reliance on email as a department's main method of information exchange on cases creates another problem too: without a common place to talk and keep cases updated, the information stays siloed in one division. When information stays constrained in email form, shared only within one unit, case details may languish unseen in the shuffle of individual cops' inboxes. While detectives might need to protect case details, all too often divisions that don't need to hide information do so inadvertently, resulting in many divisions searching for the same offender. If case details are inter-departmentally available, however, the department as a whole can better leverage their limited human resources.
Enabling faster communication allows officers to spend more time fighting crime, and less effort wading through unimportant information to find what matters. Technology becomes a force multiplier enabling officers to be more efficient, respond to more calls, and spend more time out in the communities they serve. Departments must move beyond email as the primary means of communication and use tools that provide a central repository of up-to-date information.
NC4 Street Smart® provides both bulletin and blog features for case information storage, so there's no need to filter through emails for case details or worry that a critical piece of information to put an offender behind bars is lost or overlooked in an inbox. With Street Smart, fast communication becomes effortless. To see a demo of our real-time crime-fighting technology for law enforcement and how it's helping officers solve crimes faster, click here.
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