The City of Wasilla is the sixth-largest city in Alaska, with an estimated population of 7,831 residents. Wasilla, part of the Anchorage metropolitan area, is home to the regional dispatch center for the Wasilla Police Department and a division of the Alaska State Troopers. Covering a 12.4 square-mile radius, the Wasilla Police Department manages a fleet of nearly 30 vehicles.
In 2006, the city recognized the need to provide officers with a secure, mobile data connection in the field to work with their new mobile data software and CAD System. For example, if officers wanted to learn more about a suspect or vehicle while out in the field, they would call into the dispatch center from the radio and wait for an update. In addition, when dispatching officers to calls, Wasilla wanted call information sent directly to the officer dispatched. With time of the essence, the city knew officers were losing opportunities daily to perform their job at the highest level as well as potentially affecting a first responder’s time to react. Realizing it was time to provide officers with access to real-time data in their vehicles, the city began to research mobile data options. “Carrier data coverage just wasn’t there and what was there, wasn’t reliable,” said Technical Support Technician Joel Butcher. Unable to find a carrier that could offer a 100% secure, dedicated network to support the mission critical services offered by the city, the team in Wasilla realized it was time to build their own network. Then, the city turned their search to finding the right mobile, in-vehicle device to connect to their private network and give officers the wireless connectivity they needed. Additional requirements included that the device be compatible with the 700 MHz spectrum and include integrated GPS, in order to provide vehicle location to dispatch. It was also important that the device be rugged and reliable and include management software that monitors and updates the devices remotely.
By equipping each officer’s vehicle with a CalAmp Gemini G3 device and installing two CalAmp Paragon base stations to support, the city was able to build a secure infrastructure that provided officers with real-time access to data needed in the field, resulting in faster response times and reliable access to mission critical information. “We wanted a mission critical layer we control to support our officers,” said Technical Support Technician Joel Butcher. “CalAmp fits our needs because it allows us to control the infrastructure and it met our security requirements for secure, end to end encryption.” The two supporting Paragon base stations, one at the regional dispatch center, and one on a nearby mountaintop, load balance each other in order to ensure system connectivity and coverage exists for officers at all times. The end result is a state of the art, next generation wide area mobile data network that is secure, reliable and rugged. In addition to the network stability made possible by the Paragon base stations, the Gemini G3 devices also provide critical data back to the regional dispatch center, such as vehicle location and speed . This allows dispatch to better determine the ideal officer to send to a scene based on the officer’s location. Dispatch can also broadcast messages to each vehicle, which allows for quick, instant communication of critical data. For example, if the adjoining State Trooper division issues a stolen vehicle report, the Wasilla Police Department dispatch center can pick up that message and can rebroadcast the call history, which includes the vehicle description, etc., to all officers on duty. As a result, every on-duty officer has the information needed to help locate the suspect and vehicle. Lastly, officers can utilize a host of valuable mobile applications, which in turn make their jobs easier. For example, officers can issue citations quickly and efficiently with the help of GPS software that communicates via CalAmp’s Gemini G3. The GPS determines the officer’s location and the information is quickly downloaded via the CalAmp G3 into the officer’s citation software for accuracy and speed of issue. “In today’s world, it’s a given that police officers will need data mobility to do their job effectively,” said Butcher. “It reduces time on scene and maximizes the officer’s capabilities in the field.”