BEACH - Law enforcement officials on the Mississippi Gulf Coast
have a new weapon in their fight against crime. The Department of
Justice has awarded an $844,475 grant to The University of Southern
Mississippi that will establish a multilocation help-desk system to
benefit the Tri-County Regional Information Sharing System.
data-processing equipment and even hand-written records, this system
allows Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties to share criminal
information via computer, which should enhance public safety.
The help desk
will be a 24-hour service in each county designed to train first
responders to become proficient with the new information-sharing
technology, which was spearheaded by Harrison County Sheriff George
Payne, Hancock County Sheriff Steve Garber and Jackson County Sheriff
identification equipment and its supporting infrastructure are long
overdue, said Dr. Julian Allen, director of the Public Safety Technology
and Training Office at Southern Miss Gulf Coast. "We've got
13 local law enforcement agencies and 15 fire departments. But there
is very little information technology between them. In some instances,
their only means of information sharing is by picking up the telephone,"
Dr. Allen said.
Dr. Allen said
the help desk will act as a support structure for law enforcement
and fire personnel who are learning to implement new technologies.
While in the field, first responders - including emergency medical
service and civil defense personnel - will use laptop computers
to tie into a main information database. "Now firemen and police
on the streets will have laptops with access to this information
immediately," Dr. Allen said. "If someone's out there
on the streets at midnight and they have a technical problem, he
or she can call someone 24 hours a day for help (with the equipment)."
Under a training
program funded by the Automated System Project, approximately 3,000
end users of the system will learn basic computer skills and job-oriented
software applications. But the support doesn't stop there, Dr. Allen
said. Once the users are back at their workstations, they will have
around the clock access to skilled troubleshooters who can provide
real-time response to technical problems.
"Regardless of how great a technology solution is developed
and deployed, if the end users are not trained and supported through
a type of help-desk system, then the overall automated system project
will be a failure."
desks - one in each county - will be manned on a 24-hour basis by
Southern Miss students versed in computer science or management
Dr. Allen said:
"A tremendous number of problems encountered by end users of
during implementation of new systems are created by their lack of
understanding computer software. The problems are usually easy to
fix by the help desk workers, allowing the end user to quickly become
Gene Taylor thanked Southern Miss for "helping to make our
home and families safer.
advantage of the technology available and through proper training,
we can make it a lot harder to be a criminal on the coast,"
Taylor said. "Our first responders put their lives on the line
to protect us; they deserve any resource that will help them more
accurately and quickly identify danger."