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University of Windsor’s Community Police Receive the Microsoft Technology Innovation 2012 Award (MTIA)

This month at the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Conference (Toronto, Ontario), the Microsoft Technology Innovation 2012 Award (MTIA) was presented to Sgt. Chris Zelezney & Director Michael MacKinnon on behalf of the University of Windsor’s Community Police.   Presenting this award was: Superintendent Bill Moore (Halifax Regional Police Service, Co-Chair CACP Informatics Committee, co-Chair CACP Informatics Committee), Mr. Michael Doucet (Chief Information Officer, RCMP, Co-Chair CACP Informatics Committee) and Ms. Michelle Evraire (Public Safety and Justice Canadian Lead, Microsoft Canada Co).

The MTIA award is a joint initiative between Microsoft Canada, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) and the CACP informatics Committee. Projects submitted are of work done by individuals and teams that incorporate new ideas demonstrating creativity and innovation in using technology to help in the advancement of policing, specifically for the front-line service providers. This award is not just about the technology itself, but a celebration and a raising of awareness of the efforts that teams and individuals are doing to contribute to the national best practices within policing and public safety. The double honour today is that the University of Windsor is the first educational institution to have received this prestigious award. The “University of Windsor – A Team Approach” project was set apart for their work in incorporating technology into their organization allowing for the sharing of information in real-time between multiple organizations to increase interoperability among public safety departments – college and corresponding regional, provincial and federal first responders.

The University’s emergency management program is headed by Sgt. Chris Zelezney. He engaged software consultant Cynthia Weeden, CEO of FutureShield Inc., and his IT department in the evaluation, implementation and training of the software needed to build the current system and program within the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) at the University. A mandatory requirement of this software was that it would integrate and complement his current technologies and emergency policies and procedures. Cynthia Weeden and the IT department ensured that all of the products worked in a Microsoft environment with SQL databases and Bing mapping to support the University standards.

Combined with the acquisition of MIR3 mass notification software, termed UWindsor Alert™; WebEOC™ emergency operations centre software and EmerGeo Fusionpoint™, emergency mapping and situational awareness software, the University prepared for the integration of multiple technologies, with the goal of each one working in a symbiotic relationship collectively in emergencies.

Some of the current capabilities of the EOC (on-campus and virtual):

  • Instant Mass Emergency Notifications - Text, cell phones, campus and non-campus numbers and emails – 20,000 contacts – option to segment to emergency zones, campus departments, buildings, floors.
  • Surveillance cameras - Monitors pre-determined evacuation routes, medical triage sites and can be focused to monitor the progress of a building evacuation through the EOC software – even virtually (first of its kind)
  • EOC Dashboard – Common Operating Picture – including GIS mapping and plume modeling software, sharing of information, RSS Feeds.
  • Software Integration - In case of an emergency lockdown, this can be securely facilitated by authorized users from anywhere in the world. Integration with national level government response agencies for wider interoperability during a response if necessary.

"A special thanks to our technical team including Cynthia Weeden, of FutureShield Inc, and Marlene Kemski, Paul Fraser, and Kevin MacNaughton of the University of Windsor IT Services who formed a tight partnership with the Campus Community Police to ensure that all IT infrastructures could be expanded to test regional capabilities within a short deadline of less than 4 months. The team trained approximately 200 users of the software in one week’s time and delivered super-user training to smaller core groups of regional IT and GIS personnel. These personnel would eventually make up the regional go-to designates for each municipality and form part of the team setting, addressing such issues as workflow and marrying existing protocol into the software. The dedication of the entire University of Windsor Team to making this happen is a testament to their work ethic, their spirit of teamwork and their desire to place concrete results-oriented solutions in the hands of first responders." Sgt. Chris Zelezney, University of Windsor Campus Community Police

The University of Windsor, under the initiative of Sgt. Chris Zelezney, didn’t stop with just increasing the safety of their campus with this technology. Using the University of Windsor’s EOC as a model they began sharing their resources and expertise with surrounding area municipalities and first responder groups. With current user groups, this now allows for dedicated personnel from various civic and county emergency agencies to access, collaborate and share emergency information on-line in real time.

In February 2011, an International public safety live exercise was performed in Windsor. Vendor partners FutureShield & EmerGeo were brought in as part of the technical team to assist in software customization and training for the exercise. The public safety partners were able to achieve first-ever regional communication between police agencies, such as Windsor Police, the OPP and local Windsor-Essex EOC’s and even Detroit Department of Homeland Security on the systems hosted by the University of Windsor.

It all started with the vision of past Director Robert Cowper (retired) and Sgt. Chris Zelezney to increase the safety of the campus at the University of Windsor. Now it is a growing program that has become a model for national and international public safety efforts, and a first of its kind for an educational institution. It is through all stages of this project (start, development and continuation) that the University of Windsor’s Community Police leadership representatives contribute to the success of this program and honourably accept the award offered to them today – the Microsoft Technology Innovation 2012 Award (MTIA).

“It has been a privilege working with Chris Zelezney and the team at the University of Windsor throughout the development of this program. It is because of the exemplary vision, leadership, partnership support (private and public) and technology capabilities that this vision has become a reality.” - Cynthia Weeden, FutureShield Inc.

Download PDF: University of Windsor - Microsoft Technology Innovation Award 2012 - Press Release

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