Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon
Learn how Absolute helps ECSO ensure compliance with the CJIS Security Policy and save lives in the field.
Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon (ECSO) is a combined emergency dispatch facility located in Medford, Oregon, serving a population of more than 200,000 residents in the Rogue Valley. ECSO contributes to the safety of citizens by answering 911 calls, dispatching law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services for 28 agencies, and providing public safety communications.
ECSO’s small IT team, led by Corey Nelson, supports the entire network infrastructure. That includes workstations, servers, and 220 fire and police vehicles equipped with always-operational mobile computers that are essential for receiving critical information from the field to dispatch emergency services. Most of the time, these endpoints are in the field, outside of the direct control of IT, but these devices still need to be appropriately maintained and protected.
Mobile computers can only communicate with ECSO’s systems through a VPN connection. In the past, once that connection was broken, they would lose all visibility and control of the device. However, the stringent Criminal Justice Information Service (CJIS) Security Policy requires devices to be under the control of IT at all times.
“CJIS wants you to prove that devices are encrypted and you could remotely wipe them, and I didn’t have a good tool to do that,” Nelson admitted.
However, there was more than CJIS compliance at stake.
“If a device is undergoing Windows updates and the hard drive gets full, it can cause a lot of problems. In the past, if the field officer didn’t report the issue, I wouldn’t know that computer wasn’t really working. They need access to crucial data to make the right decision on the appropriate protocol in seconds. If the computer doesn’t work correctly and they can’t use our dispatch application to run the license plate of a vehicle in front of them, they have to go ahead and initiate a traffic stop. However, the person in that car could have a warrant or could be really bad,” Nelson pointed out.
The lack of visibility and control over the complete endpoint population had the potential to create issues that could quickly escalate into critical or life-threatening situations for the police officers, fire fighters, or emergency services personnel. For ESCO’s IT team, that scenario was completely unacceptable.
As soon as it was activated, Absolute immediately improved Nelson’s team’s day-to-day operations, providing visibility and control over all devices, regardless of network, location, or issues.
“I was really pleased with the simplicity of the deployment, which was short and simple, ideal for someone who doesn’t have time to spend on a project,” he acknowledged. “I got a single pane of glass to see all devices and their status. It’s been just wonderful seeing where our devices are out there, and all the information about them. I don’t have to worry or dig into the data, I just turn on the reports I want, and let Absolute tell me, hey, you need to look at this, there’s a problem here.”
With all of that information, ECSO’s IT team can now be more proactive, effective, and efficient.
“We know what’s going on. If a computer has not been turned on for days or weeks, we reach out to the agency to find out why. We can also detect when hard drives get full, and fix them to avoid future problems with Windows updates. Without Absolute, I would not have known that. Absolute has saved me a lot of time on helpdesk tickets,” Nelson affirmed.
Risk response and CJIS compliance are critical for ECSO.
“We have to meet CJIS requirements for federal security standards. If we see some unusual activity, we notify the local security officers and the agency. Depending on the risk, we can either freeze or wipe the computer. I was really impressed with Absolute’s ability to still see that device, check its status, and remotely freeze or wipe it, as long as it has any kind of internet connection, even if all the security has been removed, which is a great feature I never expected,” Nelson confessed.
To comply with CJIS, ECSO monitors and proves encryption status with Absolute’s encryption reports. They are now looking to enforce it on all devices using Absolute’s Application Persistence, which can also make their essential mapping and dispatching applications persistent on all field devices to maximize productivity. “Law enforcement uses them all the time whenever they initiate traffic stops,” Nelson explained.
Absolute’s impact on ECSO goes beyond just efficiency or compliance, though. In Nelson’s words, “We look at saving lives here, at how an IT product improves someone’s life in the field. In this case, if it’s a really bad guy, the officer needs to follow a different protocol. For example, in most cases, a felony stop requires that you do not stop the car until you have help. Keeping those computers up and running with Absolute could save their lives.”
Confidence that CJIS requirements are met by remotely locking down endpoints and proving encryption status. One more line of text. This is going to push it down.
Endpoint hygiene that ensures uninterrupted access to critical data, to make the right decisions in seconds
Ability to see, control, and secure all endpoints remotely, on and off the network, no matter what