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How to multiply situational awareness using a mobile app

Voyager Atlas adds breadth, context and accessibility to location tracking

Sponsored by SalientCRGT

By Laura Neitzel, Police1 BrandFocus Staff

It doesn’t matter what position you hold – patrol officer, sheriff’s deputy, transit police, school resource officer, K-9 unit or other – any officer may be called into action in the event of a mass shooting or terrorist incident. Without a high degree of coordination among responders, officers may be at risk of danger not only from the suspects, but also from the chaos and confusion that such incidents are designed to provoke.

Every officer knows the importance of situational awareness to a successful outcome, but often words fall short in describing an officer’s exact position. In covert situations, spoken words can even jeopardize the mission.

An officer may try to communicate he or she is “behind the building,” but a statement made in the blur of a stressful situation can lack the clarity of detail that makes a huge difference in outcome. What does “behind the building” really mean? Ten feet or 100 yards? Directly in the middle or to one side?

Having access to a visual display gives law enforcement officers greater situational awareness so they can determine the quickest route to the target or know whether the footsteps they hear coming around the corner belong to an active shooter or another officer.

Voyager Atlas, from SalientCRGT, places 360 degrees of situational awareness into every officer’s hand so everyone can get an accurate, real-time view of an evolving situation. Several key advantages make Voyager Atlas a valuable and affordable resource for any law enforcement agency.

Real-time location sharing and mapping

Voyager Atlas provides real-time location sharing that can track the position of any officer, K-9 or vehicle with location tracking enabled on their GPS or data device. The edge-to-edge visual map display (available on any web-enabled computer, tablet or smartphone) gives a unified, comprehensive view that shows the locations of each member of the force.

Because it’s a mobile app that is easily implemented on any GPS-enabled device for any officer, the unified view does not have to be reserved for command staff – every user can know the location and movement of all other users.

By aggregating GPS location information into a common display, every user has greater control over situational awareness. Instead of a passive experience controlled by computer-aided dispatch in a command center, the officer has active control to see other officer positions at will, reducing the possibility of delay or confusion and multiplying the number of positions that can be conveyed at one glance.

Contextually enhanced situational awareness

The Voyager Atlas app can also provide relevant context, such as whether a device is plugged in and what type of movement the officer is engaged in. Because the movements of a bike officer or mounted or motorcycle patrol are different that an officer in a patrol vehicle or walking a beat, Voyager Atlas can be configured to recognize contextually appropriate movement for the user.

It can also be configured to send an alert in case of unusual activity – if an officer suddenly goes from a stationary position to a run, it could indicate a foot pursuit. If movement goes from a run to a drop, it will send an alert that there may be an officer down. With tracking enabled on the officer’s smartphone, an incapacitated officer can be quickly located.

Voyager Atlas also works with GPS enabled police radios, so even without a cellular device, an officer’s position can be identified and plotted.

Seamless transfer of location positioning

GPS is a wonderful tool for tracking and mapping to a location, but once inside a building, it loses capabilities. Within a large building like an office tower, a school or public building, it can be difficult to know whether the officer is moving down a corridor or along the edge of an auditorium, or whether he or she is concealed in a supply closet or exposed.

Voyager Atlas can be enhanced with additional capabilities to refine a position within a building by overlaying the GPS position with known building floorplans. This offers a seamless transfer of location positioning from a GPS map to a floor plan, so instead of knowing that a specific officer is somewhere on the third floor, viewers can see that the officer has exited Classroom 317 and is now approaching the door of Classroom 318.

All-around association

Voyager Atlas is also able to interact with the real world and satisfy checkpoints. For instance, a school resource officer may be required to make rounds of the building and check in at various locations with a tap of his or her phone. The Voyager Atlas app can be configured to send notifications triggered by user-defined geofencing events, navigating or tagging actions of other system assets, like security cameras and badge-controlled doors.

This can be used to demonstrate compliance with protocols that can reduce an organization’s liability, as well as provide a record of movements in the case of an incident.

User control

Contextually enhanced location sharing capabilities from Voyager Atlas can empower all users with critical information they need to make quick, accurate decisions and stay safe. The user is always in control of turning the tracking feature off or on, according to department policies or need.

There are legitimate times when an officer may wish to turn off location-sharing, such as when involved in a sting operation. Even if the user’s location sharing feature is turned off, they can still use Voyager Atlas to observe the movements of other officers without their own movements being tracked. The user can easily toggle between the on and off position anytime they want to enable or disable location tracking.

Administrators can also set up security groups and manage who gets to see what. This can extend beyond the agency to include regional information-sharing and mutual aid partners.

Voyager Atlas integrates fully with Voyager CommandTRACKER, an incident and asset management system for GPS-enabled radios that gives command staff, communications specialists and emergency operations managers with an enhanced geospatial view of resources and assets.

With Voyager Atlas, situational awareness can now include the ability to visualize exactly where every single officer is, along with context around whether the officer is walking, running, driving, sitting in their patrol car or charging their device. By putting situational awareness in the hands of its mobile workforce, law enforcement agencies can mount an even more coordinated response to critical incidents and keep officers safe.