The Christchurch earthquake of 22 February 2011 caused tragic loss of life, severe damage to thousands of homes and devastation to the central city business district. The scale of this catastrophic event highlighted the importance of an emergency response that is well planned, well directed and well informed.
The 2011 Christchurch earthquake and the upcoming 2011 Rugby World Cup later that year highlighted that New Zealand Police required technology to provide critical real-time information and situational awareness, allowing decision makers to coordinate groups of people quickly in response to fast-changing situations during large scale events or emergency situations.
It’s a point that the New Zealand Police took to heart by investing in some of the world’s most innovative technology.
In response, the police worked with Intergen to develop two new toolsets.
The first toolset, Signal, allows police to track social media across the country in real time, helping to identify incidents with remarkable speed.
The second, E.Sponder, pulls together a variety of incident management tools to create a virtual command centre
Though both toolsets were developed to manage major events and incidents it was obvious they could also support NZ Police in their day-to-day, business as usual activities. And so the two tools were brought together to create Real Time Intelligence and Operation Deployment – or ‘RIOD’ for short.
RIOD is built using Microsoft SharePoint as the platform, and the idea is simplicity itself. For any given event or activity (let’s say the 2014 Royal Tour), a SharePoint site is created, along with selected, prebuilt tools associated with the event. Typically, they will include:
- A mapping system for tracking people, vehicles, equipment and key locations
- Social monitoring tools to pick up conversations that warrant action
- Heat and location maps
- Tasking and activity/event logs
- Associated events, such as a parade that might block a motorcade
- Prebuilt texts and emails that allow you to send predefined groups to any location at speed
- Databases of information and resources
Neil Macrae, head of deployment at Police National Headquarters, says: “RIOD allows us to coordinate centrally. Before, we had 260-odd SharePoint sites, and other databases that couldn’t be accessed by everyone. RIOD gives us greater availability of operational material, like orders, evacuation plans, business continuity plans, floor plans – any information we need for an unplanned event or emergency.”
At the same time, each police district now has more control over its own activities. “We have 12,000 officers in 12 districts, from urban Auckland to the large Tasman District, which includes the West Coast. RIOD allows each to set up protocols, coordination logistics and responses that work for that area.
“What’s more, because information from one station can be made available to others, we can coordinate activity across large areas.”
“Intergen is flexible and adapt to our needs,” says Neil. “They understand our business process and have brought in people who are like minded.