The Oregon Department of Transportation's Governor's Office of Highway Safety was established in 1969 to provide a safe, efficient transportation system that supports economic opportunity and livable communities for Oregonians. As part of its mission, the department constantly is researching innovative technology and the latest trends in transportation to help keep the roads safe for all citizens.

That's how the Oregon Department of Transportation discovered APS PocketCitation software, an innovative electronic citation system from Advanced Public Safety (APS) designed to automate and streamline the process of issuing traffic tickets.

Based in Deerfield Beach, Fla., APS develops innovative technology specifically designed to address the challenges of today's public safety agencies. The firm focuses on creating software that operates in conjunction with the mobile computers and handheld devices used by law enforcement, corrections, fire and EMS personnel. APS products work with an agency's existing technology infrastructure to significantly increase officer safety and productivity.

Previously in Oregon, traffic citations were issued manually by the officer, who was required to write out a multipart form. There were four colored copies of each citation, with a copy given to each party involved — the officer, violator, court and the state's Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division (DMV). Although each entity had the same information, the police department, court and DMV had to re-enter the data into their own computer systems before it went on the driver's record.

“This process was redundant and time-consuming,” said Steve Vitolo, program manager of Statewide Law Enforcement and Judicial Programs, Oregon Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

Problems also occurred if the driver was unable to read the officer's handwriting on the ticket. If the defendant could not read the court date because the print was faded or not easily read, he or she failed to attend on the proper court date. The need to write slowly and press hard also increased the time it took for the officer to write each citation.

In addition, there were issues related to officers recording the wrong court date. Police officers — who work from their vehicles — didn't always have a calendar at their disposal and sometimes wrote court dates on holidays when the court was closed. This would automatically result in a dismissal due to officer error.

Ensuring citation accuracy

According to Jeffrey Rubenstein, founder and CEO of APS, approximately 20 to 30 percent of all handwritten traffic citations are dismissed because of incorrect statute numbers, illegible handwriting and other administrative data errors. PocketCitation's onboard intelligence solves these problems by ensuring that the citation information entered is correct and that the citation itself is printed in clear, legible type by Zebra RW 420 mobile printers.

“Using our PocketCitation application and Zebra's high-performance mobile printers, law enforcement officers can issue a traffic citation in less than a minute,” Rubenstein said. “This capability can minimize risk and increase officer safety because they spend less time on the side of the road and in contact with traffic offenders.”

“APS PocketCitation was hands-down the best solution on the market compared with the other e-citation systems we evaluated,” Vitolo added. “Now, our officers are safer because they can issue citations from behind the cover of their cars while maintaining a clear view of the violators' vehicles. Moreover, efficiency at traffic stops has greatly increased, tickets are more legible and integration of data into existing systems has been hugely simplified, with no redundant data entry required.”

The APS PocketCitation application populates an agency's current ticketing form (or newly designed form) with data from the violator's driver's license or returned from an officer's query to the FBI's National Crime Information Center or state motor vehicle bureau. The officer selects the applicable violation from a drop-down menu on the computer screen, and the appropriate statute number, fine amount and court information are entered automatically on the ticket. The ticket then is printed out, clearly and legibly, using a compact, Bluetooth-enabled Zebra RW 420 mobile printer. At the end of the shift, officers dock their handheld PDAs to upload the e-citation data into a centralized computer system, totally eliminating the extra step of manual data entry.

In addition to the APS PocketCitation software, the Oregon Department of Transportation is using the APS ReportBeam system, a Web-based application that enables agencies to create an electronic version of any form/document and automate the mandatory processing associated with most agency paperwork (approvals, reporting, etc.), as well as APS PocketCrash, an electronic crash form for a handheld device.

From 6 days to 10 minutes

According to Oregon's Vitolo, the state's public safety agencies have experienced a number of benefits since switching from manually written citations to an automated process using handheld devices and mobile printers.

“The previous administrative process took six days from start to finish,” Vitolo explained. “Now, it is reduced to 10 minutes.

“In addition to an increase in officer safety, traffic stops can be as brief as four minutes per stop as opposed to eight minutes per stop with the manual citation system. We have also seen a 40 percent increase in the number of citations being issued.”

PocketCitation now is fully implemented at four agencies under the Governor's Office of Highway Safety grant projects. An additional four are being finalized, and at least seven other agencies are using the system. Agencies now using APS technology include the Oregon State Police and a multitude of police departments and sheriff's offices across the state. The Oregon Department of Transportation also purchased and is implementing APS PocketCrash and Zebra printers for recording detailed information at motor vehicle crash scenes.

“Feedback from public safety agencies to the Oregon Department of Transportation has been overwhelmingly positive,” Vitolo concluded. “Once officers discover the benefits of these automated solutions, they are more reluctant to give them up than they would be if someone were to ask for their car keys!”

Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based Advanced Public Safety provided this case history. The views and opinions expressed in this case history do not necessarily represent those of Government Product News or Penton Media Inc.