GeoMetrix provides cost-effective systems with maximum functionality, avoiding the need for extensive customization without compromising productivity.

Around the world, police, corrections and other community service agencies are at the forefront of safety and law enforcement.

We all know how critical these services are to the communities we live in and also understand how crucial it is that those who provide these services are properly trained. A report called the Economics of Policing written for the Police Education and Learning Summit states, “Police training is fundamental to ensure police officers have the knowledge, skills and tools to reduce crime and disorder in our communities. Police training must be cost efficient, relevant and delivered in an effective manner. The policing community must work collaboratively and in a forward thinking fashion to ensure police training meets its objectives, including taking advantage of innovative training methods and new technologies.”

Although training varies from organization to organization, recruits are usually put through a bootcamp program consisting of field work as well as theoretical and practical study.

For in-service workers, training is usually ongoing both to maintain skill levels and to increase proficiency. According to the Economics of Policing, “Training for existing personnel… is intended to build and refresh knowledge, skills and abilities… in operational policing, specialty policing, and in police administration and management practices.” But training is also needed to keep informed of the latest developments in the industry and also of changes in legislation or policies.

Requirements for learning management systems at organizations that carry out this training can vary, but compliance is often a huge component.

An example of a high-level mandate for a correctional organization was a system that would allow it to “effectively plan and organize multi-layered local and corporate training initiatives while providing instantaneous on-line feedback. The system would be required to provide both actual and statistical data as a measurement of the work completed and compliance with mandatory training requirements.” To fill that order, the agency chose an LMS from GeoMetrix Data Systems back in 2006 and has been using it ever since.

During its 23 years in business (since 1992), GeoMetrix Data Systems has worked with many of these agencies throughout North America.

The software products that GeoMetrix develops provide full learning and performance management to a range of industries but are particularly suited to law enforcement and community services.

Policing and correctional services customers for the company’s products include Calgary City Police, Correctional Services of Canada, Halton Regional Police Service, Ontario Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services, and Ontario Provincial Police. The County of Alameda in California uses a GeoMetrix LMS county-wide including for its Sheriff’s Department and other public service agencies.

In addition, GeoMetrix works with organizations whose business it is to train community workers such as police, corrections officers, judges and fire fighters. These include the Canadian Police College of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Justice Institute of British Columbia, Ontario Provincial Police College, the National Judicial College in Reno Nevada and the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service. The software is also utilized by other areas of community services such as paramedic, ambulance and social services.

In most cases, as noted in the description earlier, the training for these organizations is mandatory, and the agencies involved are subject to regulations from different levels of governments. The training suppliers that aren’t directly governed by the regulations must still meet stringent industry standards for their trainees to be accepted by those who are.

With so many law enforcement-related customers as well as customers in several other compliance-based industries (including health care), GeoMetrix has put an emphasis on meeting regulations in its software development. One of the company’s customers described a certification program his organization developed with the help of an LMS from GeoMertrix and explained that “The auditors were blown away by our validation process.”

Because the out-of-the-box software from GeoMetrix offers most of the functionality necessary for law enforcement, little in the way of customization has been required for its customers in this industry.

Certification programs, group enrollments, skills tracking and most of the other essential features are included. Unique or specific needs can usually be accomplished with options already built in. For example, statuses and field names can be modified to match each organization’s terminology. Positions and job roles have been utilized for rank or other designators, and fields can be added for special items such as badge numbers.

Accreditations are fully tracked in a programs inventory with recertification and expiration dates. Course versioning shows which information has been included in a course to record what each trainee was taught, and upgrade courses can be managed to fill the gaps.

The reporting needs of law enforcement and community service customers are generally satisfied by the more than 500 reports that come standard with the software. But GeoMetrix also includes two report design engines — one for quick reports and one for graphical reports. Reports can be customized and set up for automatic notifications, e-mail merges and alerts. For example, e-mail alerts can be sent to supervisors prior to evaluation due dates and notifications can be sent to employees prior to expiration of certifications.

Detailed information tracked for each trainee can be integrated with other HR systems for payroll, promotion and recruitment. Skills can be updated automatically based on training attendance or grading.

A particularly valuable tool for law enforcement and community services that comes standard in the software is the ‘by-training’ search. This search provides instant access to anyone in the system who meets specific criteria. For example, an administrator could use the ‘by-training’ search to find all personnel who have completed a negotiations course or who have not participated in range work recently. You can search for all learners who have taken a course or who have completed a course within a specific time period. You can even search for those who took a specific version of a course or who are currently in a certification program.

An administrator can search for personnel who have completed a negotiations course or who have not participated in range work recently.

A performance management module provides the ability to carry out annual or more frequent reviews with full evaluation and feedback processes. Outcomes and results are captured in the system. The non-catalogued event feature lets workers enter external training, fitness evaluations and other activities into their personal history with or without supervisor approval depending on administrative settings.

GeoMetrix has provided the ability to track not only facilities but also equipment — an important feature for police and corrections. Organizations can maintain an inventory of all gear used in training, which could include weapons, laptops, belts, cell phones, handcuffs, baton holders, and anything else. The system can automatically assign individual items to courses based on pre-defined templates and can also track maintenance history of any piece of equipment. The LMS even allows appointments for both facilities and equipment so that maintenance or repairs can be scheduled in the system to show when inventory items are unavailable for use.

Economics of Policing states, “The use of technology is bringing a new dimension to police training. We are seeing more trainers incorporating e-learning, blended learning and simulations into existing curriculum, and police learners are receptive to change.”

In a paper titled E-Learning and Online Education: Implications for the Future of Law Enforcement Training, the author writes, “There are a number of agencies that have started to experiment with virtual, interactive scenario based training or mobile training.”

For those who want to embrace these new opportunities, GeoMetrix has already included the necessary functionality to manage all types of training.

Of course, the LMS’s online portal can be designed with the look and feel of the agencies they serve for continuity and esthetics. In some cases, single sign-on allows workers to log in to the organization’s site and access training without having to sign in a second time.

For organizations such as police and corrections that have both external and internal security needs because of sensitive data, GeoMetrix provides multi-level security settings. Database security is based on logins, roles, and object-level permissions. Security settings can be applied at each level, but system administrators can also set the rights for each and every item in the system if needed.

The LMS also allows the definition of security policies and business rules to enable compliance with laws and regulations. One law enforcement customer required that compliance data and benefits information be highly restricted, while timesheets could be available to all employees, even temporary workers. Easily accomplished with the existing security options in GeoTalent or TrainingPartner.

Audit logs record changes to key or critical data and contain date of change and identity of changer. Preventive data validation techniques have been employed to enable the user to modify only fields that are necessary. Screens can be set to present the user with only the choices that are valid to his or her security (or needs) and disable objects that are not applicable.

A built-in financial management system tracks training costs, travel expenses and budgeting. A full accounts receivable system with a general ledger journal is available for invoicing and revenue administration for those who offer fee-based training. And as noted, with more reporting options than any other system, all data, including that needed for compliance or budgeting, is easily accessible at any time (to those who have security clearance).

Today, our changing world is providing new challenges for law enforcement. A report called The State of E-Learning in Canadian Policing noted that “Technology-supported learning can be an enabler of high quality policing. In policing, rapidly changing work environments, budget pressures and demographics… drives the need to train rapidly, consistently, repeatedly to maintain policing standards.”

GeoMetrix understands the pressures, especially those of budgets, that these agencies face and offers cost-effective systems that provide maximum functionality, avoiding the need for extensive customization without compromising productivity.

Confirmation of this is that GeoMetrix software has consistently received good reviews from the Brandon-Hall analyst group and been chosen for its Low-Cost LMS reports. Comments from Brandon-Hall reviewers include “full-featured learning management and talent management system at an attractive price point… A strong system with a lot of bang for the buck.”

The analysts at Bersin & Associates said, “GeoMetrix’s customers have the lowest annual operating costs of any vendor due to a combination of reasonable licensing, customization and implementation fees… the company is in touch with the needs of its customers and serves them well.”

“GeoMetrix’s customers have the lowest annual operating costs of any vendor due to a combination of reasonable licensing, customization and implementation fees.”

The Economics of Policing report states, “… it’s about making the most of available resources and investing in appropriate tools and relationships to meet growing demand for training and to ensure that all police have the knowledge and skills to do the job safely and effectively.”

GeoMetrix Data Systems is proud to provide appropriate tools to police and community services around North America, and is especially proud of its relationships with these organizations.

Recently, when one police service was considering purchasing an LMS from GeoMetrix, the agency looked to the vendor’s existing customers for references. Not surprisingly, there was one just a short distance away.

A document published by the Halton Regional Police Service in 2015 reported, “The Director of the OPP Police Academy has given GeoMetrix and their products outstanding reviews and references. The Ontario Police College has been using TrainingPartner since 1996 and have purchased the entire GeoTalent Learning Management System, and report that it is extremely user friendly.”

What does the future hold for law enforcement and community services training? E-Learning and Online Education reports, “Certainly, technological developments are rapidly changing the way people learn and think about learning and training.

One of many challenges that law enforcement will face is keeping pace with these technological expectations.”

GeoMetrix plans to be there for its law enforcement customers to help them through these and any other challenges they face in learning, performance and talent management.

“The Director of the OPP Police Academy has given GeoMetrix and their products outstanding reviews and references.”

References

Economics of Policing: Police Education and Learning Summit Summary Report, prepared for Public Safety Canada and Canadian Police Knowledge Network (2013), last accessed May 28, 2015 from https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/plc-lrnng-smmt/plc-lrnng-smmt-eng.pdf

State of E-Learning in Canadian Policing, prepared for Public Service Canada and Canadian Police Knowledge Network (2013), last accessed

May 28, 2015 from http://www.policecouncil.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/State-of-E-Learning-in-Canadian-Policing-2010.pdf

Leal, J., E-Learning and Online Education: Implications for the Future of Law Enforcement Training, World Future Review 2009, last accessed

May 28, 2015 from http://libcat.post.ca.gov/dbtw-wpd/documents/cc/42-Leal.pdf

Photos from Wikimedia Commons, Government Sites or FreeImages.com

Industry Focus: Law Enforcement, Fire & Emergency Services

With so many law enforcement-related customers as well as customers in several other compliance-based industries (including health care), GeoMetrix has put an emphasis on meeting regulations in its software development.