Florida Picks Cisco for Highway Safety TelePresence, Video Upload

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles consists of multiple divisions that promote safe driving across the state.
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The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles consists of multiple divisions that promote safe driving across the state.
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Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles employees conduct a meeting with the state’s Cisco telepresence system. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles consists of multiple divisions that promote safe driving across the state. Besides ensuring highway safety and security, we are also responsible for the credentialing of driver licenses and vehicles, as well as providing our data and assistance to local, state and federal enforcement agencies.

The department also runs enforcement programs to monitor traffic safety, investigate crashes and support other field activities.

Looking around, I noticed many initiatives where cost savings and efficiencies could be improved. For instance, the department’s legacy network was seriously deficient and the low-quality network switches were not effective for a 24/7 law enforcement agency.

I began my research and drafted a new plan to integrate voice, video and data for staff and troopers to not only save money and time, but to also ensure public safety. I rebuilt the network entirely, switching to Cisco network hardware because of its cost-effectiveness, reliability, security and ease of access for users.

We installed video solutions at 15 locations throughout the state and began conducting Florida Highway Patrol command staff meetings, remote interviews and field manager meetings over video. We immediately saw a return on investment.

Historically, troopers had to come back to the station to have face-to-face meetings with their supervisors. Now, Cisco’s TelePresence has almost eliminated the need to travel for meetings and has improved the ability of troopers to do their jobs. Our staff and officials can meet online more consistently using TelePresence, which has made coordinating enforcement and planning efforts more productive.

We are currently piloting TelePresence video using tablets and smartphones for troopers and field staff to further expand upon our video solution. This will allow for direct on-scene video transmitted back to command staff and management.

My team installed dashboard cameras in 1,200 patrol cars and created 28 statewide video offload sites with external WiFi antennas in designated parking areas. Having cameras on the dashboards allows troopers to provide video footage as evidence in case of complaints or trials before court.

Before installing the antennas in designated areas, the upload time for video footage was about three hours. This meant troopers had to wait in their cars and be paid overtime while video content uploaded. By deploying Cisco-engineered access points and antennas throughout the state, the IT Team reduced upload times to 20 minutes. Monetarily, it would have been $1.1 million for the year in overtime due to slow upload times; this was a cost we instantly stopped incurring because of Cisco’s access point and antenna solution.

The revamped telecommunications system and network with its increased functionality, reliability and improved throughput helped us realize our vision of connecting citizens and partners to the services they need. As well, it enabled department staff to further capitalize on increased communication channels to improve service delivery and promote safety.

Since the Cisco video technology deployment, we have also expanded our facial recognition software to combat identity-related crime and terrorism by leveraging driver license images.

We just started the planning stages for outfitting a second Florida Highway Patrol mobile command center. The mobile command centers are self-sufficient communication platforms providing remote dispatching, land mobile radio, VoIP, video conferencing, wireless network hub and interconnectivity to disparate networks and devices.

Moving forward, we will continue to uncover new ways for officers to do their jobs with ease and protect the public through the use of technology.

Rob Fields is the chief information officer for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. He can be reached at robertfields@flhsmv.gov.