An Objective Source of Tech Info for Law Enforcement Agencies

Posted on 11 July 2011 by

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We’ve made one of the promised “several” announcements – that Dave and I are working with Law Officer Magazine and lawofficer.com. Now here’s the second announcement:

Dave and I feel strongly, and we’ve been told by many of you that we’re not alone in this, that there is no truly objective source out there of buyer-focused, independently produced information on law enforcement technology.

What we feel is missing from the market is a source of objective purchasing criteria and guidelines for the nation’s nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies on elements including efficacy, utility, security, integration, simplicity, and a cost:benefit analysis workbench to afford agencies new tools to examine the value they receive for the money they spend.

So we’ve founded CSG Analysis to be that source. Like Police Led Intelligence, our reports will be distributed free of charge to agencies under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

CSG Analysis Reports are, for the first time ever, an easy-to-understand and objective buyer’s guide to law enforcement technology.

Police Led Intelligence will remain free, and advertiser and sponsor free.

The content and form-factors of CSGA reports will be similar to industry analyst reports from firms like Gartner Group or Forrester Research, and include analysis similar to that of firms like Forrester and The 451 Group.

The integrity of our analysis will be guaranteed by free and open access to all source material, and a community-based comment process to assure buyers that our opinion has not been bought. It is created consistent with the Securosis Totally Transparent Research model, which says in small part:

In essence, we develop all of our research out in the open, and not only seek public comments, but keep those comments indefinitely as a record of the research creation process. If you believe we are biased or not doing our homework, you can call us out on it and it will be there in the record. Our philosophy involves cracking open the research process, and using our readers to eliminate bias and enhance the quality of the work.

The way we deal with vendors at CSG is about the same as the way we do it here at Police Led Intelligence.

We explain how we make money below.

First Steps
This month, CSG Analysis will release a major report; an efficacy study on the ShotSpotter Gunshot Location System (see below). Our first agency-targeted analysis products will be a series of papers and reports covering the commercial database and intelligence market, comparing the major players and services in an objective industry overview, buyer’s guide and comparison chart.

Background
I am now a police officer at an agency in Texas, and I have been involved in security and bleeding-edge technology since the early 1990s. In the late 1990s, I was the editor at large for Tornado Insider, a European magazine and website dedicated to explaining next-generation wireless technologies to the venture investment community. In 2005, I became the founder and research director of the enterprise security practice at industry analyst firm The 451 Group, where I later served as Vice President, Research Operations until mid-2009.  At 451, I conducted more than 1000 vendor briefings, and created more than 500 industry analyst reports. I also served fr0m 2006-2011 on the faculty of IANS, where I specialized in data theft and industrial espionage, and intelligence.

David is a veteran police sergeant at the same agency and has been a cop for almost 15 years. In that time he’s worked patrol, internal affairs, investigations, been a school resource officer, worked motors and administration, and in the past couple of years he’s focused on law enforcement technology, crime and intelligence analysis. As an experienced TCLEOSE instructor, Henderson teaches at police academies and for in-service training at his agency. Henderson also currently serves on a federal task force, and is a warrants officer.

Together we have been examining, analyzing and writing about law enforcement technology for about a year and a half. In February, 2010, working as cop and analyst together on cases, Dave and I each realized that we were moving from our core competencies towards that of the other. We established a consultancy around our combined strengths: law enforcement intelligence, information technology and security. Our customers to date include law enforcement agencies and technology vendors large and small.

Police-Led Intelligence
Since March, more than 20,000 law enforcement personnel have read and commented here on Police-Led Intelligence, the website and podcast which Dave and I run for crime analysts and cybercrime police officers. In June it became the sixth fastest-growing blog on the WordPress platform.

As experts in technology for law enforcement, we are regularly asked to provide insight and analysis to leading mainstream media outlets. Since April, I have spoken at the IACA and SMILE conferences. We’ve recently been widely quoted in the mainstream and industry press (including National Public Radio, Fox News, Information Security MagazineDarkReading, CSO Magazine and InformationWeek, and as we announced, Dave and I are the Technology and Gear columnists at Law Officer Magazine and lawofficer.com.

Since March we have provided background information and assistance to reporters and feature writers at The Wall Street Journal, Business Week and USAToday on law enforcement and technology stories.

I am co-author – with Will Gragido, John Pirc and Dan Molina – of the forthcoming textbook, “Blackhatonomics:A Study In Profitability and Loss in the Cybercriminal Underground” to be published by Syngress (Elsevier). That will be another announcement, soon.

Because of all the above, Dave and I are highly confident in our ability to generate conversation and engagement with the law enforcement marketplace.

Debut Report: ShotSpotter Efficacy Study
Our first outing in the world of LE technology is the ShotSpotter Gunshot Location System Efficacy Study, the conclusions of which are based on a series of 35 structured interviews held with five respondent groups at seven agencies (and five test interviews at an eighth) around the country last spring.

ShotSpotter commissioned us to create a document that would be

  • transparent;
  • verifiably objective; and
  • independent

and we have created it.

The 37-page report examines in detail the ShotSpotter product and how it is being used by police agencies around the United States. It describes the technical efficacy and customer satisfaction the product delivers, and makes recommendations to improve the product.

We maintained our objectivity by meticulously sourcing all conclusions and providing full and free access to all the raw data used in the report – from the emails sent to agencies to the survey instruments themselves to access to the actual recordings of the interviews, and their written transcripts.

Our final report has been endorsed by NOBLE, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, whose executive board reviewed the report and the supporting materials before providing the endorsement. I will be speaking at the NOBLE Conference this month to reveal the key findings and take questions from the delegates.

The CSG Model
CSG’s business model is based on that of industry analyst firm Securosis: sponsorship of the reports includes the ability to reprint them and refer to them in marketing and sales materials.

Various levels of sponsorship engagement results in more support from CSG, including:

  • Rights to brand and use the report(s) as white papers
  • Participation by CSG analysts in your podcasts and webinars
  • Participation by CSG analysts at your events, workshops and training seminars

Protecting the Sponsor
While customers are not be able to dictate findings, nor placement within the analysis, sponsorship provides the opportunity to see advance copies of the work prior to publication, and the right to refuse to sponsor should our findings not be acceptable to your firm.

For example, should a company agree to sponsor CSG research and, upon reading the reports, decide that the report does not (in the company’s opinion) reflect an accurate or acceptable depiction of the market or its position within it, the company would have three business days to decline to sponsor the report.

In this way, we are able to write what we believe, and the company can decide to sponsor or not.

In the coming months, we’ll be talking about our research here and at CSG. We hope you join the conversation.