Four Simple Steps to a Successful Technology Deployment
Prior to his retirement from the Arizona Department of Public Safety Vehicular Crimes Unit, Cam Siewert worked on hundreds of collision investigations and reconstructions. He’s seen documentation capabilities change exponentially over his 20-year career. However, he’s noticed that some deployment obstacles remain the same. “You can’t forget the basics,” says Siewert, owner of Magnitude and Direction Investigations in Peoria, Arizona.
Keep Your Batteries Fully Charged
Batteries are a ubiquitous and essential part of modern life. In fact, most of us won’t leave the house without ensuring our cell phones are charged. However, uncharged batteries is one of the top issues Siewert encountered at the Arizona Department of Public Safety. “I’ve had calls from other department areas in the agency asking me, ‘Is there another way to do this?’ and I said, ‘Well, no. You’re going to have to charge the batteries.’” Once you’re at the scene, there’s no easy fix or workaround for a dead battery. “You can’t just run to the store and grab a set of AAs,” Siewert says. “They’re usually proprietary batteries.” Make sure your batteries, including backups, are always fully charged for the next crew.
Maintain User Proficiency
“Use checklists to maintain that it’s done the same way every time—from setup to documentation to teardown and putting the instrument away.”
As the old adage goes, “Use it or lose it.” Siewert and his Vehicular Crimes Unit colleagues always dedicated time to work with their technologies during downtimes in order to maintain user proficiency. “There were times we didn’t get the opportunity to use that equipment but maybe every couple weeks. Sometimes, we’d go three months without using a device,” he says. “That can cause issues when you go back to that instrument to try and use it again and say, ‘How did I do this before?’” Standard operating procedures also help with proficiency. “Many times, we use checklists to maintain that it’s done the same way every time—from setup to documentation to teardown and putting the instrument away,” Siewert says.
Total stations, laser scanners, GNSS, UAS and other high-precision geospatial technologies are an investment. Yet accidents happen, and technology breaks. Even though no one wants to be “that person” who, let’s say, dropped an expensive piece of equipment, it’s important to report any damage or problems immediately. “I know people don’t want to be responsible,” Siewert says. “However, if you do damage it, it’s best to tell someone and get it repaired, not just put it away and hope for the best.”
It’s not uncommon for technology to fall out of use simply because the sole person who knew how to use it left the unit. Promotions and transfers are inevitable, and it’s important to maintain continuity with your equipment when staff changes occur. First, make sure your chain of command is aware of the sophisticated equipment your unit uses and the training it requires. “Command staff have a lot on the plate, and technology may not be at the forefront of their thought process,” Siewert says. Transparency and training will help smooth these personnel transitions. “Everyone should be in the loop on changes that take place,” he says. “That way, units can maintain their consistency so technology [use] can continue to advance and won’t stop with just one person.”