Written by Jerred Ziegler.
You see it on TV crime dramas all the time – detectives trying to catch a criminal go back to headquarters, and have access to a wealth of information with the push of a button. Digital displays show surveillance videos, photos of suspects at the crime scene and satellite maps of the area. To viewers at home, it all seems a little too easy. While this crime fighting speed may be fiction right now, Dayton, Ohio-based Footprint is working to make it fact for law enforcement officials across the country.
Footprint is a Situational Awareness System (SAS) that aggregates crime-related data from things like video surveillance, geolocation and other sensors. It combines that data with information from other local and state law enforcement agencies, and transforms it into an understandable and usable crime analytics package for law enforcement departments.
“All of this data is available elsewhere, but we integrate it and put it all in one place” said Steve Phipps, co-founder of Footprint. “We turn the data into information, turn that information into knowledge and then turn that knowledge into understanding.”
The speed Footprint affords law enforcement is key for the Dayton Police Department at a time when they are doing more with fewer officers. Their partnership with Footprint has allowed them to make great strides in combating staffing issues, while simultaneously reducing crime thanks to the SAS technology. Rather than using a shotgun approach to solving cases, they are using Footprint data to solve crimes quickly.
“The Dayton Police Department has allowed us to test our new technologies right here in our own backyard, which is truly a unique opportunity,” said Tom Lachey, co-founder of Footprint. “We’ve got the right technology and, most importantly, the right people.”
The relationship with the Dayton Police Department was a key component in securing the initial Ohio Third Frontier grant and has been instrumental in the continuing development of Footprint. It allows the company to adjust their technology in real time to ensure it is meeting the needs of an active police force.
“Our goal is to efficiently get law enforcement officials all the applicable data they need to prosecute a case, whether that be information from other local law enforcement agencies, state agencies or probation/parole records,” said Tom Lachey, co-founder of Footprint.
The University of Dayton Research Institute, a Footprint innovation partner, was awarded a $3 million Ohio Third Frontier grant in 2013 that allowed them to develop the initial Footprint system platform. In addition to the Dayton Police Department, the company has been working closely with Optica (a company that specializes in crime analytics) and Wolpert (a geospatial engineering firm) to hone their SAS.
The Footprint team started their company in 2013 with a goal of creating a product that could be brought to market and create jobs within three years. To date they have created 15 jobs, with plans to increase to 32 by late 2016. They also see the Footprint technology expanding beyond law enforcement in the future to include hospitals, factories and logistics.