Technology Resource Assessment

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Philadelphia Police Department





Organization Overview:

The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) is the nation's fourth-largest police department, with over 6300 sworn members and 800 civilian personnel. The PPD is the primary law enforcement agency responsible for serving Philadelphia County, extending over 140 square miles in which approximately 1.5 million reside. Our mission is to be the model of excellence in policing by working in partnership with the community and stakeholders to fight crime and the fear of crime, including  terrorism, enforcing laws while safeguarding the constitutional rights of all people, providing quality service to all of our residents and visitors, and creating a work environment in which we recruit, train, and develop an exceptional team of employees. All members of the Philadelphia Police Department must dedicate themselves to accomplishing this mission. Whether sworn or civilian, patrol, specialized units, or administrative offices, every unit is essential in making the Philadelphia Police Department a model of excellence in policing.

Project Name:

Technology Resource Assessment
Project Type: 
Strategic Plan

Project Overview:

Major cities across the United States are facing budget crises as a result of the pandemic coupled with the extensive costs of providing a response to protests after the murder of George Floyd. Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Police Department are experiencing the same budget trends, and at the same time grappling with accelerating homicides and shooting incidents in the city. As a result, the PPD is being challenged to identify inefficiencies in every area of its operations including administrative functions, policies and technology.

Commissioner Outlaw’s action plan details numerous projects to be initiated under each pillar, including a commitment to “enhancing human and technological resources in order to ensure the department operates at peak performance.” Specifically, the Commissioner outlined the that use of technology should “increase efficiencies and expand the PPD’s footprint, while preserving the constitutional rights of all who live, work and play here.”

To that end, the PPD is looking for a collaboration with the Fels Lab to produce a comprehensive analysis of the technology resources of the PPD and recommendations for optimization. This analysis will focus on the technology structure and systems of the PPD, the major business processes, and IT work and data flows.

The PPD uses a patchwork of IT systems and applications to handle its major business process, communications and archive data. Many of these systems are older and were developed with limited budgets in unit silos; often procured as a band aid to an urgent need, without a higher level IT plan or vision. Therefore, there are systems and applications that do not integrate well or at all. Many of the older systems were proprietary customized applications while some of the newer systems are commercial off-the shelf (COTS) solutions. Police personnel often need to sign onto five or six individual systems a day to handle routine functions such as payroll, discipline, daily records, police reports, case management, prisoner processing, warrant inquiry, etc. Major business processes are sometimes duplicated by technology that cannot “talk” across systems or applications, and some business processes that are still manual could be automated, accelerated, or enhanced with the use of technology.

The PPD IT unit now follows a stricter project development protocol, which requires stringent vetting and critical review at the city level before an IT project can be piloted. Additionally, Philadelphia City Office of Information Technology now holds quarterly project review sessions to monitor and update executive staff and stakeholders within the PPD of new and existing technology projects. However, while this process has provided a higher level vision and review plan for police IT projects going forward, it is a more recent practice, and does not address the functionality (or lack thereof) of previously existing IT systems and applications.

The PPD is seeking to partner with the Fels Lab to sponsor and assist in a capstone project that would comprehensively assess the technology resources of the PPD and provide an analysis and recommendations. The analysis would focus on identifying gaps and shortcomings in major business processes, communication and data archiving related to PPD technology. Areas of review would include but would not be limited to:
-Dispatch systems and equipment
-Arrests and case management
-Data collection, archiving, reporting and analysis
-Internal Affairs, use of force reporting and early intervention system
-Cameras (BWC, PPD stationary cameras, private camera network, RTCC)
-Technology within departments and Units (PARS, Premiere One, PBI system (Need name), etc)
-Equipment inventory (smart phones, MDCs, MFIDs, Evolution tablets, etc)
-Evidence tracking systems

The scope of this project may require more than one student, or could be broken down into several capstone projects.

The final deliverable will be the completed technology assessment and recommendations. Additionally, the PPD requests that the Fels Lab graduate student (s) would make a presentation of the findings and recommendations to the Police Commissioner, the Executive team and upper level Commanders and appropriate technology stakeholders such as representatives from the CIty’s Office of Information Technology.

The PPD envisions that this project will start in late January 2022 and be completed on or before August 2022. The PPD is committed to providing full support to this Capstone Project, by providing the necessary access to staff, data and other resources identified through the Capstone process.

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326