Canadian Security Magazine

OntLA upgrades security incident tracking software

By Vawn Himmelsbach   

News Data Security

Using the latest technology, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario is able to detect patterns in incident activity and predict issues with annual events ”“ even identify associations between known individuals and potential incident involvements.

Its Legislative Security Service is responsible for safety and security on the legislative grounds, responding to 2,300 incidents every year from presidential visits to protests and demonstrations. To track, analyze and report on security incidents, it was using PPM 2000’s Incident Reporting & Investigation Management software.

But OntLA, the seat of Ontario’s provincial government, had been using
this paper-based system for incident reporting since 1997. The user
interface was cumbersome and Microsoft was ending support for SQL 2000,
the database platform on which IRIMS was built.

It was time for an upgrade. Steve McGowan, staff sergeant with the
Legislative Assembly of Ontario, came onto the project six months in
and was tasked with doing an analysis of the 10 years of information
that been collected in the system, looking to see what worked and what
didn’t. The decision was made to roll out PPM 2000’s Premium Edition of
Perspective, which includes a computer database (based on Microsoft SQL
Server) for information storage and retrieval to speed incident
follow-up and increase the efficiency of their security operations.

About 70 employees use the system for the input and storage of critical
information. “We also use it as a training reference,” says McGowan.
“We ask our officers to preview old incidents, see how situations were
handled and what they can learn from the officer’s decision at the
time.” Security incidents tend to cycle through, so officers look for
the same incidents coming up again.

“We tend to have similar incidents every year or annual events, so we
can go back and see what we did in the first year,” he says. “Did we
have enough officers on staff? Was this venue good enough to hold this


Sergeants, supervisors and front-line officers also use the dashboard
feature to keep in constant contact. Officers have the ability to send
every report to their supervisor, while supervisors can check reports
and send back verification or correction notices or add additional
information. “It allows them to stay more in tune with what’s
happening,” says McGowan.

They’re also using a tool called Visual Analysis, which shows a
timeline or graph outlining the nature of an incident or multiple
related incidents. Officers are using this tool to bring life to their
information, in whichever way they choose to view it, linking like
persons with their aliases or linking like events. “We have the ability
to pull that information out of the original search,” says McGowan.
Every incident can be learned from; if they know an incident is going
to occur again next year, they can plug information into the system and
continually add to it throughout the year.

Since the inception of Perspective, OntLA has moved over to a paperless
system on a trial basis because there’s enough of a comfort level in
the way information is stored and archived in the database.

In January, Clint St. Jean, senior consultant with PPM 2000, who works
with the company’s professional services division, went to the
legislative grounds and spent five days providing user training.
“They’ve been able to start using the system and charting the results
of their different benchmarks,” he says. Each time there’s an incident,
it can be classified in terms of type of incident and physical
location. Investigators who look after ongoing issues with certain
individuals can link all their files together within the system,
allowing them to cross-reference related data.

PPM 2000 has partnered with i2 to create Visual Analysis, a new module
based on i2’s analysis technology. If you want to see what entities are
involved with an incident, for example, Visual Analysis will put a
graphical icon on your screen. By right-clicking on it you can look at
the record itself or show the relationships between all the different
people who were involved with that incident. Then you can start
right-clicking on those and it opens up like a spider web.

“Once you have something like that, you can throw it into a timeline
and see where each of those components occurred,” says St. Jean. “If
you have two people you’re dealing with and you’re able to determine
that they’re actually aliases of each other, it will show you at which
point in time you made that realization.”

Legislative authorities deal with certain individuals on a regular
basis, such as protest groups, and this tool allows them to see
relationships between individuals and incidents. A history tab shows
what individuals have been involved with across the board, and any time
an officer accesses that record, it will add another entry.

OntLA is the first legislative authority in Canada to roll out
Perspective, but PPM 2000 is in the process of working with at least
three others. It also has customers in the airline, health care,
education, banking and special events industries.

It all comes down to data capture. “If I wanted to do a multi-variable
analysis on different suspects and their eye colours, I could do that,
as long as the information is there,” says St. Jean. “Those results are
also chartable.”

Users can copy and paste results into presentations if they’re trying
to get funding, for example. “Say you’re having problems in one of your
parking lots and you don’t have any video cameras there, you could
build a chart to show the frequency of the problems,” he says.

Each customer can tailor the software to its own requirements in terms
of data capture. “I’m a security professional by trade and I’ve worked
in security for about 17 years, so I have a pretty good understanding
of what most customers have as basic reporting needs, but every
customer is different,” says St. Jean. “That’s why I get involved
because I have to learn about the customer’s business and what kinds of
things they do that might be different.”

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