Okay, so a technologist, a psychologist, a software engineer, a public policy expert and a couple of tech entrepreneurs walk into a bar … While it sounds like the start a tired joke, it’s really not. It was, however, the beginning of DragonForce, a unique multi-platform software tool for handheld devices, tablets, notebook computers and both Mac and Intel-based PCs. And, it wasn’t a bar they walked into; it was Drexel University just outside Philadelphia. But, the bar sounded better.
A satellite picture of a mock scene with icons identifying officers, targets and the command post overlayed on the image. The green arrows are an example of how you could whiteboard pertinent info for the group to see.
What Is It?
It’s software that’s aimed at already existing and familiar platforms like computer web browsers, tablets and smartphones. DragonForce is designed to help law enforcement teams like SWAT, investigations surveillance teams, patrol platoons or squads on special enforcement duties. It helps those units to communicate more easily and collaborate during operations.
DragonForce allows team members and supervisors to track one another on maps or send group and one-to-one text messages. You can exchange photographs imported from the web or captured in real-time. You can also use the photographs as shared whiteboards where leaders can draw or place icons.
Almost every tactical mission includes a period of the “where are you” dance. Not so with DragonForce — instead, the software tracks the real-time whereabouts of personnel through the device’s GPS. If the GPS antenna is blocked by an obstruction, has a weak signal or the user is in a building, it will switch to dead reckoning.
Here are a couple of examples of what you, as an officer working a situation, might see on your smartphone.
DragonForce is scalable to accommodate any size organization or mission. As Ops Sergeant in the EOC during a past Republican National Convention (I think the candidate was Lincoln) there were 10 or 12 ongoing missions around my town and in the county. DragonForce would have been perfectly suited.
A specific mission, such as dignitary protection at a host hotel could be one layer with DragonForce. Traffic at the venue could be another. Commanders would be able to communicate via secure text with their entire assigned group or to individuals within the group. Other missions around the city would have their own layer. Finally, the Joint Command at the EOC can layer all the ongoing missions onto their screens and select individual missions or view them all at the same time. It would be an invaluable tool for allocation of resources.
This is a browser view the Ops Commander of an incident might look at. He’d have an overall picture of where everyone is and where to direct other resources.
Imaging & Cost
Aunique feature of DragonForce is its ability to distribute and utilize images. Commanders can send out images from practically any source to other commanders or individual users. An overhead view from a satellite image such as Google Maps, Microsoft’s Map Point, Garmin’s MapSource or building schematics from SmartDraw can be distributed for use. Or, if a particular bad guy or vehicle is being sought, it’s as easy as capture the image from the department’s database, DMV records or a smartphone’s camera and send it to those who should have it.
The software can run on just about any existing device — PC, iPad, iPhone or Android system smartphones and tablets — so cost for the system is limited to just the application. Pricing runs on a sliding scale depending on the number of devices using it.
By Dave Douglas