- What is a community engagement platform and why is it important?
- Two public safety platforms for community engagement
- SPIDR Tech: Key features, pros, and cons
- PowerEngage: Key features, pros, and cons
Platforms for community engagement are technology solutions that allow public safety agencies to connect with citizens and provide two-way communication – without requiring excess staff, time, or resources. Social media, online forums, chat rooms, and text messaging apps are all examples of digital community engagement platforms.
Using technology for community engagement is more important than ever due to the rising expectations of citizens. Think back to the last time you had a dentist appointment or scheduled a contractor to come to your home. More than likely, you received a text message reminder or appointment confirmation. In today’s digital age, citizens want that kind of immediate, real-time communication from every organization they encounter – including law enforcement. Real-time updates are becoming the expected norm.
But with limited resources, funds, and staffing, how can public safety agencies deliver this same level of service and meet citizens’ changing expectations?
In this article, we will highlight two popular platforms for community engagement – SPIDR Tech and PowerEngage – and discuss how they can help your agency engage with citizens in real-time – without adding to your workload. We will also share the pros and cons of both options so you can identify which citizen engagement solution is the best fit for your agency.
What is a community engagement platform and why is it important?
Community engagement platforms help facilitate and strengthen the relationship between public safety agencies and the communities they serve. These digital solutions provide automated ways to communicate with citizens in real-time and collect feedback in the form of citizen satisfaction surveys.
Providing this level of communication to the community you serve is an important part of building public trust. The more proactive you can be about keeping citizens informed and involving them in the process of enhancing your department, the more they’ll be able to trust your agency and depend on your officers.
The world today is increasingly digital, so it’s important for agencies to engage citizens through technology in addition to connecting with them in-person. Platforms for community engagement can accomplish this by automating real-time communication and collecting citizen feedback without putting a strain on your staff.
Two well-known platforms for community engagement
When looking for digital citizen engagement solutions, you want the best – something that will stand the test of time and give you the benefits your department needs without adding to the work you already do. SPIDR Tech and PowerEngage are two such products that are well-known in public safety.
Versaterm offers technology solutions for more efficient and effective public safety operations. They provide software related to emergency call handling, dispatch, field response, report and records management, investigation and analysis, prosecution and resolution, and community engagement.
PowerEngage, formerly CueHit, is owned by PowerDMS, a company that serves over 5,000 public safety agencies nationwide. PowerEngage markets itself as the “complete citizen engagement and feedback solution for public safety.”
PowerDMS by NEOGOV offers a public safety workforce management platform designed to help public safety agencies reduce risk and liability, build public trust, operate with excellence, and improve department health. They provide software solutions related to policy management, accreditation management, training management, shift scheduling, community engagement, and responder wellbeing.
Both companies have extensive public safety industry experience – giving them the ability to understand and meet your agency’s needs with proven software solutions.
Key Features of SPIDR Tech’s Platform for Community Engagement
- CAD and RMS Integrations: Works with your existing CAD and RMS.
- Citizen Notifications: Looks at CAD data to automatically text citizens after they call for service. Automates messages like delayed response, pre-arrival instructions, and more.
- Feedback Surveys: Once an event is cleared in an agency’s CAD system, it can automatically text or email the citizen a link to a survey asking for feedback.
- Victim Notifications: Using your RMS or case management system, automatically send emails and text message updates to victims. This includes detective assignments, case dispositions, notification of an arrest, and court proceedings.
- Configurable: Notification timing, scenario selection, and message contents can all be configured by the agency.
- Analytics & Reporting: Measure how many messages were sent, survey completion rates, and survey responses. Track and measure trends based on location, officer, crime type, and more.
- Feedback Board: The ability to display positive feedback on TV screens throughout your department.
SPIDR Tech Pros
- Auto-redacts FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) reports: One-click redacting to save time responding to FOIA requests.
- Email and text options: Automatically chooses the best way to notify victims – email or text.
- Connection to Versaterm’s CAD and RMS solutions: Because SPIDR Tech is owned by Versaterm, integration with their own CAD and RMS solutions is likely fairly simple.
SPIDR Tech Cons
- Low survey response rate: SPIDR Tech advertises a survey response rate average of just 12.1%. This is likely due to the fact that SPIDR Tech performs their surveys via a hyperlink, meaning citizens have to click through to the survey in order to complete it. Citizens may think these links are spam or a phishing/smishing scam, as these nefarious attempts to steal identity through text and email are becoming more popular. Hyperlinked surveys also come with the expectation that the survey will be time-consuming (i.e. it couldn’t fit in a simple text), creating another barrier for citizens.
- Requires full integration with CAD and RMS: SPIDR Tech requires you to fully integrate the software with your CAD and RMS systems. These integrations can sometimes be costly and time consuming depending on which CAD and RMS vendor you currently use.
- Doesn’t auto-sort survey feedback: While SPIDR Tech provides a feedback board you can display on TV screens in your department, it doesn’t automatically sort citizen responses by sentiment (i.e. positive vs. negative vs. neutral). This requires someone in the department to manually identify the positive feedback you want to display, creating more work for your staff.
Who is SPIDR Tech a Fit For?
SPIDR Tech is a great fit for agencies who are already using Versaterm for their CAD or RMS. Because they are owned by the same company, they should be able to provide a fairly seamless integration and setup.
If your agency isn’t a Versaterm client, but you have a lot of experience and internal resources to set up a full CAD and RMS integration, they would likely be a great fit for you as well.
Key Features of PowerEngage’s Community Engagement Platform
- CAD and RMS Connectors: PowerEngage provides seven different ways to connect with an agency's CAD or RMS system. This provides flexibility depending on which CAD or RMS you use and supports your agency with options no matter what resource availability or technical know-how you have today.
- Citizen Notifications: Using CAD and RMS data, PowerEngage automates communication including response delays, case updates, and pre-arrival information.
- Configurable: Control what, when, and to whom surveys and notifications are sent.
- Feedback Surveys: Automatically sends text message surveys to citizens following certain incident types in your CAD or RMS. Can set up a QR code survey link to add to business cards, event flyers, your agency website, and more.
- Victim Notifications: Automatically send victim notifications using RMS data. Detectives can also choose to manually send case updates in a text from PowerEngage rather than having to use their personal devices.
- Sentiment Sorting: Auto-sorts feedback into positive, negative, or neutral. Positive feedback is automatically displayed on the feedback board. Negative feedback can automatically trigger the creation of a task for staff to review and follow up with the citizen.
- Feedback Board: The auto-sorted positive feedback can be displayed on TV screens throughout your department in real-time.
- Positive Feedback Emails: Positive feedback is automatically emailed to first responders on a weekly basis to boost morale and show them the positive impact they’re making in their community.
- Analytics & Reporting: Measure how many messages were sent, survey completion rates, and survey responses. Survey responses are automatically aggregated into a Citizen Positive Satisfaction Score (CPSS) that can be tracked over time. Filter data based on location, responder, crime type, and more. Dashboards and reports can be exported and shared with external stakeholders.
- High survey response rates: Survey response rates with PowerEngage average 37% with some agencies seeing numbers as high as 50%. Citizens are more likely to fill out a text-based survey that provides simple response options than they are to follow a hyperlink.
- Versatility of the system: PowerEngage’s configurable and text-based surveys can be used for more than just collecting citizen feedback. For example, you can create a QR code survey that will screen potential applicants and automatically create a follow-up task for your recruiter if the applicant meets minimum job qualifications.
- Part of the PowerDMS by NEOGOV platform: PowerEngage benefits from being part of a complete public safety workforce management platform to address agencies’ top concerns. If you already use or are considering PowerDMS by NEOGOV, your agency will only have to work with one vendor – streamlining the number of software systems you use and making it easier than ever to procure the solutions your agency needs.
- Don’t have to fully integrate with a CAD or RMS system: Depending on which vendor you work with and the bandwidth of your current resources, there are seven different ways PowerEngage can connect with your existing CAD and RMS. These include:
- Query the reporting or analytics database
- CAD or RMS system creates a file to read
- CAD or RMS system uploads a file to an SFTP server
- Manual file upload
- Automated file upload with batch processing
- PowerEngage writes to CAD or RMS system API
- CAD or RMS system writes to the PowerEngage API endpoint
- Victim notifications can’t be emailed: At this time victim notifications can only be sent via text messages.
- Doesn’t auto-redact info for FOIA: PowerEngage doesn’t have a feature to auto-redact data for FOIA requests.
- PowerDMS doesn’t have their own CAD or RMS: PowerDMS by NEOGOV doesn’t currently own a CAD or RMS software.
Who is PowerEngage a Fit For?
PowerEngage is a great fit for agencies that don’t have the internal resources to set up a full integration with their CAD and RMS system. PowerEngage offers seven different ways to connect with your CAD and RMS, potentially reducing the time and resources required to get up and running.
PowerEngage is also a great fit for agencies already using PowerDMS by NEOGOV to manage and enhance their policies, training, accreditation, scheduling, or wellness. You can start using the software sooner with a streamlined procurement process from a known vendor.
If you’re already considering any of PowerDMS by NEOGOV’s solutions, they also offer bundled pricing when you purchase two or more products at once – giving you more value for your money. If PowerEngage sounds like the right fit for your agency, schedule a free consultation to learn more.