February 11, 2016

Highway Safety Management in New York

TraCS has become the way the New York State Police and over 400 other police agencies in New York do business.

Police officers today across New York write tickets and accident reports on a computer in the patrol car, print copies for the involved citizens, and electronically transmit the data to the courts, and involved state agencies. Officers can also complete a magnitude of law enforcement forms in the vehicle and import case data directly into their records management system.

The New York State Police has taken the lead in the TraCS program and currently, there are over 400 agencies using TraCS and transmitting data electronically. Each year, TraCS transmits over 2,000,000 traffic citations and 200,000 crash reports. Electronic transmissions of tickets and crash reports continue to grow, breaking all previous records.

The TraCS team continues to add forms and functionality to TraCS. This program has been successful due to the continual efforts and coordination of New York State Police, Governors Traffic Safety Committee, Department of Motor Vehicles, Office of Court Administration, Department of Transportation and several other governmental agencies. The implementation of new forms and the distribution of new technology have not only increased productivity and enforcement but have also made our roadways safer for all those that live and travel throughout New York State.

TraCS

Traffic and Criminal Software (TraCS) is application software that, combined with laptop computers, one or more PCs in a central office, and data communications, provides officers with all of the functionality needed to record and retrieve incident information wherever and whenever an incident occurs.

Officers respond to many incidents every day and each incident requires paperwork and other administrative duties that take away from valuable patrol time. The TraCS software was developed in response to the need for a well-designed information management tool for field officers that would simplify the data collection process and ease the administrative burden on officers.

In a paper form environment, officers are often required to copy the same information, such as names, addresses, and vehicle information, to multiple paper forms. TraCS eliminates this repetition through the use of Common Information, which allows the user to enter certain types of data once and use it many times. TraCS can organize Common Information into customizable categories including:

  • Individuals (e.g., name, address, phone number)
  • Vehicles (e.g., make, model, license plate number)
  • Commercial Carriers (e.g., carrier name, carrier address, DOT number)
  • Location (e.g., latitude and longitude coordinates, location description)

TraCS uses the latest mobile computing technologies to facilitate data collection where incidents occur. Officers have access to many tools to aid them in reporting events, including Officer Notes, customized data entry fields, robust diagramming tools, and interfaces to a wide array of software and hardware input sources. All of these tools are available wherever and whenever they are needed.

TraCS Functionality Highlights

TraCS includes these features and functionality:

  • Meets FBI Security Standards
  • Streamlined Interface and Navigation Tree Features
  • The Form Viewer
  • The Databar
  • Contact Manager
  • Print Manager
  • Flexible Data Edits and Validations
  • AAMVA PDF417 Barcode Reading
  • Diagramming
  • Image and Signature Capturing
  • Customizable Process / Business Flow
  • GIS Incident Location Tool interface
  • Modular Plug-and-Play Component Based Architecture
  • Local Records System Interface
  • Database Independence (The TraCS Databases can use Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, or a combination of the three.)
  • Built-in 3-tier customizable Security
  • Software Development Kit (SDK)
  • Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Server 2008 Compatibility (32 and 64 bit versions supported.)

Validations

TraCS provides data validation functionality to ensure that forms are complete and accurate. Users receive immediate feedback regarding incorrect data and are prompted to correct any errors.

Diagramming

  • TraCS Diagram Tool - A simple to use, drag-and-drop diagramming tool which provides the user with a series of templates that store images of crash elements including vehicles, roadways, people, animals, trees, text and other objects. The user may move, rotate or size these objects as needed. The Symbol Designer allows custom symbols to be added as needed.
  • Image Capture and Import - Capability to scan a hand-drawn diagram into the form by utilizing a flatbed scanner or a barcode imager or to import a graphics file as a diagram.
  • Easy Street Draw/Scene PD - Ability to open Easy Street Draw or Scene PD from the form and complete a diagram; the diagram is then displayed and saved with the TraCS form when the tool is closed. An Easy Street Draw and/or Scene PD software license is required which must be purchased and installed separately.

Attachments

Any type of file can be stored with any TraCS form including digital images captured with a barcode imager, images or video from digital cameras, and images scanned in with a flatbed scanner.

Printing

TraCS includes a print manager that allows the user to print any number of reports for each TraCS form. These reports may be formatted to look like existing paper reports if necessary or desired. Several versions of a report may be designed against one TraCS form to meet specific printing needs.

Signatures

Signatures may be captured on a TraCS form by writing on the screen when using a tablet PC, by capturing it using a barcode imager, or by using a signature tablet connected to the computer. In addition, the officer may choose to store his/her signature in the application for the duration of their shift or permanently so that he/she doesn't have to sign every form every time.

Data Transfer

TraCS provides for multiple methods of electronic data transfer (this transfer process is called Start Shift/End Shift in TraCS). The user may select one of several ways from which to transfer data from TraCS Mobile in the field to TraCS Office and into the TraCS Office Database. These transfer methods include wireless, direct connect, diskette or other memory devices (e.g., USB Drive), and dial-in using a modem. TraCS uses a layered architecture to enable compatibility with a wide variety of communication technologies.

TraCS Office Database

One of the goals for a mobile data collection application is to provide more accessible quality data. TraCS includes an agency level database repository (the TraCS Office Database) which stores all data collected in the field. In addition, the back-end database provides for a complete, accurate and timely data warehouse that can be used for data reporting and analysis. The TraCS Office Database can utilize Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle.

External Search Engine

An integrated powerful TraCS External Search Engine allows TraCS to interface and share data with other external sources including wireless MDC clients, state databases, and third party applications. The External Search Engine allows an agency to create any number of DLL files that can be linked into the TraCS application and used as data conduits between TraCS and other applications. The uses are limitless for this robust functionality.

Process Flow

TraCS forms are status driven. Certain actions can be performed on a form based on its status. For example, when a Crash form is first started, its status starts at 'Open'. When the information on the form is successfully validated and it has no errors, the status of the form is set to 'Validated'. Only 'Validated' forms can be reviewed by a supervisor and 'Accepted' or 'Rejected' and only forms with a status of 'Accepted' can be transmitted to the central state crash report repository. The Rules Builder SDK tool allows the statuses for a TraCS form to be defined as well as the actions that can be performed on a form that has a particular status. This customizable process flow functionality provides flexibility to the agency to design and implement a process flow based on the way the agency does business.

Transmission

Once the data collected in the field with TraCS Mobile is transferred to the local agency level to TraCS Office and stored in the TraCS Office Database, it can then be transmitted to a central state/province or federal data repository if so desired. The TraCS Communications functionality allows for any form generated in TraCS to be extracted, converted and transferred to any location, in any format via FTP, HTTP, e-mail, file copy or through a web service. The TraCS preferred data transmission method is XML.

Expandability

TraCS provides an architecture that allows for additional forms and technologies to be incorporated. TraCS takes mobile and administrative level data collection to a new level of ease and portability.

SDK

The Software Development Kit enhances the functionality of TraCS by enabling users to design, build, implement and modify Forms, Reports, Data Validation Rules, Process Flow Rules, and Auto populate Rules to be used within the TraCS framework. The Software Development Kit gives you full control over the forms and reports that are used within TraCS.

The SDK consists of three major tools – the Forms Builder, the Rules Builder, and the Database Builder. These tools enable a user to completely design and build custom forms and reports and fully integrate them into TraCS. Each of these tools is defined below.

  • Forms Builder - Used to create forms and reports;
  • Rules Builder - Used to create Validation, Process Flow, and Auto populate rules that determine how the user interacts with forms and reports;
  • Database Builder - Used to build underlying database tables for form data storage.

In addition to the three SDK Tools, there are numerous other customizable elements of the TraCS application that can be tailored to meet a particular agency's needs including:

  • Splash Screen and Technical Support;
  • Online Help (CHM or HTML);
  • The Violation Search Engine;
  • Driver Exchange;
  • External Search Functionality;
  • Event Logging.

The TraCS solution provides the foundation from which an agency can build a data collection tool based upon their unique needs and requirements. TraCS does not restrict the agency by conforming to a pre-packaged software application or communications method. TraCS users have received national awards and media recognition for their rapid and successful deployment of incident reporting based on this reusable toolkit.