Two police officers and a man looking at a tablet

Collaborating to better serve the community

How Black Marble has improved policing with a collaborative platform

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Black Marble

Since 1997, Black Marble has been providing high end software development for end customers, developing solutions across the Microsoft platform and specializing in new user experiences. While Black Marble works across various industries throughout the public and private sectors, lately they’ve been working closely with police departments. As part of these efforts, Black Marble has developed tuServ, an application that enables the police to make positive impacts on the communities they serve.

Working with Microsoft

Since 2003, Black Marble has worked with Microsoft to deliver end user software solutions. As an ISV partner, their commitment has grown over the years as they have earned 7 Microsoft gold and 3 silver competencies and were recently named a 2016 Microsoft Partner of the Year Winner in the Developer Platform category.

Black Marble is looking to expand their reach through Microsoft partnerships. The Microsoft Partner Network is a community of many talented innovators that Black Marble continues to work with as they look to expand their success with tuServ beyond the UK.

Evolving to make a difference

When Black Marble first released tuServ, about 18 months ago, they aimed to assist police forces transform through digitization and mobilization. Approached by a constabulary in the UK, Black Marble set out to create efficiencies in the day to day working lives of England’s police officers, eliminating the administrative overhead of a paper-and-pen system. By modernizing administrative tasks such as ticketing and notetaking, the original tuServ was designed to automate what tasks could be automated, reducing the time spent by officers behind the desk and maximizing their time the field.

Since its release, Black Marble has transformed tuServ to do so much more. Now running on Windows 10 and transitioning to the Intelligent Edge, tuServ is now a true collaboration platform for police forces. The next iteration of the application is focused on mobilizing police forces like never before, with providing automatic updates on relevant cases directly to police officers using tuServ. By transitioning to Windows 10, Black Marble has enabled a single application deployment for all platforms, providing a continuum of support across all platforms and devices, in real-time. “This is a Windows 10, enterprise solution that police officers can already see the benefit of using on the job,” says Black Marble Managing Director, Robert Hogg.

In 2016, Black Marble will be putting tuServ in the cloud on the Microsoft Azure platform. This transition will help tuServ customers saves costs and increase operational awareness. Once on the Azure platform, tuServ users will benefit from the flexibility that cloud services provide, such as pay-per-user, scaling only as their business grows, and being able to better access data from anywhere on any device.

This is a Windows 10, enterprise solution that police officers can already see the benefit of using on the job.

- Robert Hogg, Marketing Director, Black Marble

Making Progress in less time

In the past, with several officers working the case, evidence can often take time to pull together, lengthening the time it takes for officers to brief one another. tuServ mitigates against these inefficiencies, making a major impact at crime scenes. Hogg says that “tuServ might save 10% of an officer’s time when giving a speeding ticket, but with the first roll out of the application, we saw an average of 15% time saved during larger incidents.” During the second release of tuServ, Hogg and his team hopes to see closer to 20% time savings. Hogg says that he believes this is a conservative estimate and is looking forward to seeing the progress tuServ is making in officers’ duties and in the various communities.

When just looking at the numbers, Black Marble has provided officers significant efficiencies. This is even more evident when put into practice. As an example, Hogg discusses the incredible difference tuServ makes when used on a murder scene. The first 24-48 hours are critical in serious criminal cases. Once that initial period elapses, the likelihood of catching the suspect diminishes significantly. It is paramount that officers are able to collect and communicate as much evidence as possible following an incident and then use the evidence to drive conclusions. Black Marble and tuServ enable officers to do exactly that. With tuServ, officers are able to collaborate like never before. tuServ has several features that promote collaboration and seamlessly integrate data collected from over 20 different sources.

Some of the key tuServ features include Notebook, Event Dashboard, and Around Me. Shifting officer’s work with pen and paper to a tablet or other mobile device, the tuServ Notebook feature allows officers to ditch their antiquated paper notebooks and capture statements, both written and audio recorded, add evidence photos and videos, and then share their findings real-time with their team.

All of the information related to a particular case is aggregated to the Event Dashboard where multiple officers can see all of the information related to a given incident. This allows officers and their supervisors to see the incident at a high level and make better informed decisions faster.

Once officers decide on the right course of action, they can engage the appropriate personnel using the Around Me feature. Around Me offers a dynamic view of officers and incidents in the surrounding areas, allowing supervisors to make even more informed decisions about who should be involving in carrying out a course of action.

All of these features allow officers to get to the 24-hour and 48-hour progress points in maybe 5-8 hours. This could mean the difference in life or death in serious cases. “Police officers are quite shocked at how good the solution is,” Hogg says. “They were able to see the true value of this solution when they were working in collaborative situations where they previously had struggled to communicate pertinent information quickly.”

From day one, Black Marble has been evolving tuServ to better meet the needs of its users and the communities they serve. tuServ allows officers to be out in the public more, rather than being bogged down by administrative work, which means crimes can be stopped sooner and dealt with faster. Black Marble hopes to see many more communities reap the benefits that tuServ has to offer in the future.

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