CORAL GABLES, Fla. – We all know the importance of a quick response time when calling first responders.
It can especially make a difference in major disasters, like hurricanes, that risk power outages and other issues.
In this week’s “Technically Speaking” report, Local 10′s Gio Insignares shows us how one software company is hoping to bring agencies across South Florida into the future and transform how they prepare and react to trouble across their communities.
The new partnership between the software company and Coral Gables promises to revamp the way officers respond to future emergencies.
“What it does is it makes our city, streets, and our residents and visitors safer. Because if I can look at that stuff faster, I can pivot, I can move resources that I need to move,” Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak Jr. said.
Hudak is talking about a new platform currently being integrated into the department from Mark43, a public safety technology company.
It’s a cloud-native platform that provides analytics tools, computer-aided dispatch (CAD), and records management services (RMS) to public safety agencies across the country.
Essentially, it takes all the tools and resources already in use by departments and folds them into one, universal, streamlined process, making it like a one-stop shop for everything they need.
The system will serve not just the Coral Gables Police Department, but also the Coral Gables Fire Department and the University of Miami Police Department, which uses the Coral Gables Police Department CAD and RMS systems.
“We realized that police technology was not what you see on NCIS or CSI. This was very surprising to us, but Hollywood being what it is, we said, ‘You know what? We’re going to run off our direction and build them something to help them out somehow, someway,’” said Matt Polega, co-founder & head of external affairs at Mark43.
Mark43 was started in an engineering class at Harvard University more than a decade ago.
Polega says while working with the Massachusetts State Police, the need for something more efficient was necessary.
The company’s platform provides real-time updates and an ability to maintain communication across its users, as long as there’s a wireless connection.
“Even if the network at the agency goes down, you can go to Starbucks and continue dispatching, you can use McDonald’s Wi-Fi and continue dispatching. All you need is the thinnest internet connection and a laptop, and you can literally run the emergency dispatch services for an entire city from wherever you need to be,” Polega said.
“Having everything on a computer at one place, and not having to open up several other platforms, because it’s all there with a click, it really kind of minimizes the time it takes and kind of can put some things together,” Hudak said.
One of the other highlights of the system, they say, will be in natural disasters, like hurricanes, where the risk of a power outage threatens to cripple a department’s infrastructure and response time.
“That means that those dispatchers that are working so hard to get those lifesaving units to where they need to be, are no longer using computers, they are writing things down on index cards, they are logging things on a whiteboard, they are failing over to using exclusively radios as the only piece of technology that they have. It would look like something that is out of the 40s, 50s or 60s,” Polega said.
With Mark43, officials say they can still be operational even in a worst-case scenario.
“If there is an issue with one particular data center, we’re able to move all of that traffic elsewhere, and make sure that the agencies that we work with continue dispatching, continue capturing information,” Polega said.
Mark43 has also partnered with Miramar, Miami Gardens, Fort Myers, and recently Boynton Beach.
It’s an opportunity Hudak says was too good to pass up and will be a game-changer moving forward.
“You cannot, as a law enforcement professional, not take advantage of the best 21st century technology to continue to provide service for an entirely blind community,” he said.
While Coral Gables PD is still working to fully integrate the Mark43 platform in their systems, there are certain elements of it being used right now and will continue to be used through the rest of hurricane season.
Full integration of the Mark43 platform is expected sometime in early 2024.