Paul McCloskey


Cops, collaboration and the cloud

Port of Los Angeles police department finds unified communications flow freely in the cloud

The police department guarding the Port of Los Angeles operates a command center that relies on a set of technologies that now permits officers responding to an emergency to receive video of the incident they are responding to while they are responding to it.

The technologies, the subject of our cover story this month and known broadly as unified communications, enable a mixture of digital data and video to be pumped across any type of IP-based network — such as satellite, cellular, Wi-Fi or mesh — to any type of device, including a radio receiver, video camera, mobile phone or laptop computer.

The Port of Los Angeles and the city's police department have used those technologies to set up a TiVo-like environment in which officers can give chase with the competitive advantage of multipoint video in real time and reverse, or what might be called forensic, mode.

This is not your average office cloud service. It seems more like a virtual world. But it is also a preview of public-sector applications to come, when information will flow independently of any particular device or network.

In the public safety realm, that means real-time, cloud-enabled collaboration across databases, resource centers and even jurisdictions, giving first responders a powerful leg up during an emergency or unfolding investigation.

The port story is also a reminder to other jurisdictions that in the realm of cloud services, there’s no time like the present to get your feet wet. A bit of experimentation in basic cloud application development can go a long way. And there’s plenty of support, even templates available — via the cloud.

About the Author

Paul McCloskey is senior editor of GCN. A former editor-in-chief of both GCN and FCW, McCloskey was part of Federal Computer Week's founding editorial staff.


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