This week at Cisco Live!, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles spoke on a government customer roundtable. Rob Fields, the CIO for the Department provided insight into the challenges that he faced with legacy equipment, the organization’s technology vision and plans for the future.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety had purchased lowest bid, low-quality networking equipment prior to Fields’ appointment as CIO. He knew that before he could accomplish any of his technology goals he had to rebuild the network with Cisco from the ground up.

Around this time the State of Florida imposed a travel ban, which was negatively affecting personnel throughout the department. Fields and his team had already been looking at video solutions following the network upgrade, but the travel ban gave them an even greater sense of urgency. “We installed video solutions at 15 locations and began conducting Florida Highway Patrol command staff meetings, remote interviews, and field manager meetings, over video and immediately saw ROI. It was a huge success,” said Fields.

Fields and his team also had another major problem to tackle: their dispatch centers. With out-dated voice equipment, system changes were difficult to make and calls were not getting responded to as fast at they would have liked and some dispatch centers could not handle the volume. Now, with their new Cisco VoIP solution dispatch centers can pass calls from one another depending on volume, and self-heal if one center goes down the others could take over automatically, which has greatly improved the response time and reliability.

Despite all of the changes and improvements Fields was not satisfied and could not stop until everyone had access to vital communication equipment especially the officers out on patrol. The Department received a grant to install in-car video in 1,000 police cars. A challenge arose when Fields went to find a way for the officers to wirelessly upload their video content at the end of the day. During the initial deployment it could take an officer up to 3 hours to upload his/her video.

“It was a fete of engineering to resolve this issue. The parking areas where the officers upload their video are far from the buildings which slowed the wireless and caused other complications. However, we were able to reduce the upload time from 3 hours to just 20 minutes,” said Fields.

The business benefits that Fields has accomplished demonstrate how vital IT is to state and local governments and how IT can not only save money for an organization, but improve business processes and citizen engagement.

Today, Fields and his team are working to see how they can install video outside patrol cars to share a live feed of incidents particularly when the officer is a first responder.

The above is only a small portion of the solutions that Fields has deployed. With his innovative thinking and commitment to furthering his organization’s efficiencies I cannot wait to see what else the Department accomplishes.

Is your community implementing exciting technologies to better serve its citizens? Or do you think they should be? Let us know.


Patrick Finn

No Longer at Cisco