New technology helping keep Savannah officers safe, connected amid COVID-19 pandemic

New technology helping keep Savannah officers safe, connected amid COVID-19 pandemic

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Those who keep our communities safe are adjusting to new norms. While some close interaction with the public is unavoidable, the Savannah Police Department is finding ways to limit officer-to-officer contact.

Chief Roy Minter touched on this at a city coronavirus response meeting earlier this week, how they're finding ways for their officers to practice a little more social distancing. Thanks to new technology, that effort can now start at the beginning of each shift.

Normally, officers would file into a patrol briefing at the beginning of a shift to get all the information they need to start the day. But now, and until concerns over COVID-19 calm, the patrol room chairs will for the most part sit empty.

Taking the place of these meetings is a new technology platform called SmartForce. It not only will allow officers to share information to keep the community safe, it'll allow department leaders to pass along constantly developing information and guidelines regarding COVID-19.

"Different precautions they need to be taking, different operational changes that we're taking. The chief put out a video message through SmartForce that all the officers had access to. So just again, another way that we're leveraging this platform to communicate department-wide,” SPD Technology Unit Lt. Max Nowinsky said.

The first big test for SmartForce in Savannah was Saint Patrick’s Day weekend.

“The most interesting element of that was the found property. Civilians constantly come up to officers on Saint Patrick’s Day and ask did somebody turn in a cell phone, did somebody turn in a wallet or an ID. Those officers had that information available at their fingertips because every time a piece of property was turned into a command post, it was entered into SmartForce," said Lt. Nowinsky.

Nowinsky added while SmartForce gives officers that recommended social distance in a time of coronavirus concern, it isn’t designed to completely eliminate interpersonal communication.

“It is going to help us be more efficient and spend less time having those meetings," said Lt. Nowinsky.

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.