Three Ways to Fund Your Agency’s Digital Scene Documentation Technology
Is your public safety agency holding on to obsolete equipment because there’s simply no money in the budget for newer technology? If so, you’re missing out on the latest tools that get the job done faster and far more effectively.
The good news is that lack of cash isn’t an insurmountable hurdle. Whether you need a high-speed terrestrial laser scanner, a handheld imaging scanner, a new GNSS RTK rover, an unmanned aircraft system or some other digital scene documentation solution, here are three funding options that can help you move beyond budget constraints and into the technology fast lane.
1. Federal, State and Private Grants
Grants provide a practical way to fund technology needs, yet many public safety agencies choose not to pursue grant funding because it’s unfamiliar territory. No doubt, navigating the grant process can be perplexing—if not downright overwhelming—for novices. But the rewards for your agency and the communities you serve can make it well worth the effort.
One of the least known but most powerful financing options is the technology lease. For years, public safety agencies have been leasing printers, computers, vehicles and other equipment. But did you know that leasing is also viable option for digital scene documentation and mapping technology?
Technology leases are available at competitive interest rates with flexible terms. Additionally, when working with a specialized team that has experience in public safety leasing requirements, the documentation and approval process is fast and simple. Applications can be approved within an hour or two, with a contract sent over the same day. (Read how a technology lease enabled Santa Ana PD to accelerate scene mapping.)
The ability to implement a fixed monthly payment into your annual budget eliminates the need to secure up-front funding for large capital purchases and instead enables you to use budgeted funds for the manageable year-over-year technology lease payment. The simplicity of a lease can enable your agency to be up and running on your new technology in a matter of weeks. A lease also provides built-in obsolescence protection: At the end of the lease term, you have the option to return the technology, purchase it, or upgrade to next-generation technology for a similar monthly payment.
A lease is a fast and affordable way to keep your agency on the cutting edge of digital scene documentation and mapping as the technology continues to evolve.
The obvious solution for acquiring technology is a cash purchase. Since purchase approval depends on the agency’s funding authority, the ease or difficulty of the process varies widely and is heavily influenced by the funding authority’s level of revenue. When the process is slow or revenue is low, guarantees, donations, contributions and asset-forfeiture funds are potential cash sources.
If you have purchase approval but can’t access the funds until the next budget becomes available, gap financing might help. This creative approach allows you to take immediate delivery, pay a small monthly carrying cost, and then pay the full cash price at the end of the term.
For small agencies or those located in economically depressed areas, sharing ownership with nearby public safety agencies is a practical solution that makes state-of-the-art digital mapping technology accessible and affordable. Another option is to think beyond crime and crash scenes and consider the value in scanning for event planning and school safety – partnering with local school districts can be viable way to access technology funding.
Budget tightening is another viable option. Some agencies have been able to lower operating costs and free up funds already available in the budget by spending less than planned for instrumentation and instrument repairs, combined with renegotiating service contracts, changing some vendors, and switching to bulk ordering where possible. Pulling together the savings from several different funding sources can make a purchase possible.
And don’t overlook the federal forfeiture accounts and seized assets. Many agencies don’t realize these accounts can be used to pay for laser scanning technology.
An Investment That Pays Off
Whatever funding option your agency implements, the investment in state-of-the-art digital scene documentation and mapping technology yields a highly efficient and productive workflow that delivers accurate, virtually permanent, easily accessible and more useful crime- and crash-scene documentation.