CP Police Service (CPPS) is a railway law enforcement agency headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The service operates on the Canadian Pacific (CP) rail network and surrounding areas. In this HxGN Radio Podcast, discover how CPPS ensures CP operates one of the best-performing and safest railways in North America by enhancing public safety, supporting CP Police Service service reliability by reducing train delays, protecting railway personnel, assets, operations and information, and enforcing the law.
BK: Welcome to HXGN Radio. My name is Brian, and joining us today is Jared Wagar, manager of Critical Infrastructure Protection for CP Police Service, to discuss railway law enforcement and enhancing public safety. Thanks for joining us, Jared. Appreciate it.
JW: Thank you very much for having me.
BK: Well I’m excited to talk about this. This is a very interesting subject. Just to start us off, talk a little bit about CP Police Service. Talk about your industry and what you do, what your company does, all that.
JW: Sure. Definitely. CP Rail is a transcontinental freight railway. We operate in both Canada and the US. We have a diversified book of business that goes from everywhere, from automobiles to gas to commodities like bulk commodities, like wheat and stuff like that. So, the police service, who I actually work for, looks after the protection of those assets, the people, and maintaining the viability of that critical infrastructure in both Canada and the US itself.
JW: Part of my function in portfolio is to look after the protection of our critical infrastructure, our data centers, our people, our corporate environment, as well as supporting our emergency management process through back-end stuff like implementing technology and making sure that we can deliver the right service we need to across the board.
BK: Excellent. What are some of the biggest challenges that you’re facing right now in your industry?
JW: One of the biggest challenges we have as a multinational carrier, is trying to protect our people, our assets and our critical infrastructure from those known and unknown threats that are coming across at us. And whether that’s the environmental hazards or something as bad as a terrorist.
BK: Okay. Wow. So, is technology helping with that solution? Is it making things a little more difficult? I’m assuming it’s helping in some way, but …
JW: It’s really helping. Four years ago, before we started on the path with Hexagon, our Chief of Police at the time, Ken Marchant, had a really good vision. He came from Calgary Police Service where he was looking after the entire city on one CAD system. And he looked at me one day and was like, “Well, why can’t I do the same thing across North America?”
JW: Through that amazing vision, we went down the path of looking for the right vendor that we needed to help us integrate the technology that we had, or needed to have in the future, to make sure that we could protect everybody and everything that we care about.
BK: Can you elaborate more on specifically what he was talking about in his vision, or is that classified?
JW: No, it’s something as easy as… my police officers in Calgary should have an MDT that’s the exact same, and they can see the same thing that our officers have in Montreal or down in Kansas City. They should see the exact same thing. And that should be all monitored and operated by our communication center that’s up in Calgary.
JW: We went down that path. We needed a new records management system, an emergency management program that would help us with those planned and unplanned events. We kind of balled it all up into one and started looking for the right vendor.
BK: Okay, excellent. So, what are you doing right now? I mean you’re working with various vendors like you said and all that. And then how are you helping others to adopt the technology correctly and in a way that’s ideally quick and simple for them?
JW: We took a layered approach with our frontline staff first. We said, “Okay, let’s start with the basics.” We got our CAD up and running first, and then we pushed out our records management system, and then went to an MDT system. We kind of layered everything on at the beginning. And then from there, we also exposed what we are doing to our industry in a whole and said, “Look what we can do.” We’ve been able to collaborate on several levels, not only with external parties but with internal parties as well. It’s allowed us to get on-scene faster, help manage the process on-scene faster, and clear that scene much quicker.
BK: Have you ended up with other entities coming in and saying, “Hey, what are you doing? Can I learn from you?”
JW: Yeah. A lot.
BK: Really? Okay, good.
JW: Yes. We had CN rail come on, BNSF was looking at us, another railway. We had a couple of other external people coming in and actually wondering how we’re doing it. So smaller agencies. A lot of tribal police were coming in saying, “Okay, how did you do this? How did you do it right?” We helped them down a path and it all started off with the vision that the Chief had back four years ago.
BK: That’s great. Great. It’s great to be able to be somewhat of a pioneer in this and then become the example and everybody’s coming to you and you’re, “Let’s show you how it works.”
JW: It goes with our corporate vision of being an industry leader.
BK: Yeah, absolutely. Perfect. That’s great. Have you had a hard time keeping up with any of the tech at this point?
JW: We have, and you look at the way technology is advancing now and it’s exponential every day of the week. I mean, while we’re sitting here, there’s probably 16 new apps that just came out that we can’t keep up with.
BK: And updates.
JW: Exactly. All the lovely updates. We looked at it and said okay, well we need to make a hard stop and do almost a frog-leap every three to four years of trying to understand where do we need to go and maintain that vision of how we’re supporting ourselves. Yes, the new shiny toy that comes out today may not be what we actually need, but it may be what we need in a couple of years from now. We’ve run it that way. But it is hard to keep up with technology.
BK: Keeping an eye on it but saying, “Let’s hold off. Let’s master this first …
BK: … And let’s look at this later if it’s a need.” And go from there.
JW: Exactly. You make a good point. The need. And if the need does come up that it’s a new tech piece of technology that we’ve never had before or it’s brand new to markets, niche program that we do need, then we’ll go for it.
JW: A good example is our radio over IP. We don’t have a traditional radio system. We use a radio over IP system, and it was because it was borne out of a requirement because we needed a way to communicate with our officers.
BK: Sure. Is it more secure, too?
JW: It is, yes.
BK: See, that’s another thing. In fact, we had another episode on HxGN Radio where they were talking about how they’re doing more things over like that, more through apps actually rather than over radio. And that was one of the questions we were talking about was, does that create a more secure communication channel because people can monitor normal frequencies.
BK: So that’s a great thing.
JW: That is.
BK: I like that. Well, so you’re keeping up with new tech, obviously challenging, but you’re doing it. You’re choosing it in a right way of going for the needs at that time. How are you working with your team, for example, to be more innovative, getting their ideas, research, all that good stuff, so that when the needs come up … I mean just like your Chief of Police, he was innovative. He came up with that great idea. How are you empowering your others to do that?
JW: We do a lot of group sessions, and those are internal group sessions after people have attended industry events or have gone, discussed with outside parties. The great thing about having such an expansive environment of everywhere we are, we have officers that go and attend other agencies and they find some new tech piece that they have, and they’ll come back and collaborate with my team. And then we kind of look at where does that fit in our vision and on our roadmap for the future? Something as simple as we had Thunder Bay Police, they have the same MDT as Hexagon. So, our officer out there is like, “You know what, they have the best MDT I’ve ever seen in my life. This is amazing. We want this and this and that.”
I’m like, “Yeah, that’s what we bought. It’s coming out next year.” Stuff like that is really crucial to us. But then also to look at what we’re going to buy, does it meet what we need? Can it connect to the stuff that we have? Because our next innovative leap is going to be how can we integrate everything together to reduce our dispatcher’s time on calls, especially lower priority calls. And if we can integrate automatic CADs that are being generated for that, officers can attend to or other departments that we dispatch, they can attend to it. It’s those kinds of collaborative approaches that we need. We will sit down together and say, “Okay, how does that software impact the main hub and spoke software that we have?”
BK: Sure. You’ve talked a lot about efficiency and actual need and functionality and stuff like that. Have you seen any examples where it’s creating, for example, saving lives? Something that’s just absolutely, profoundly powerful, and using this technology is making your officers more efficient. And not just efficient but effective. And I’m assuming there is, but I’m just curious if you have an example you can share.
JW: There is. We had one incident out in British Columbia. We had a major derailment and we were able to make sure that our officers were communicating over their MDTs first instead of just communicating over radio and burdening the radio traffic with just regular conversations or maneuvering where people need to go to station posts and stuff like that. All that stuff was done via the MDTs first, which allowed them to actually be better off to protect the scene and make sure everything needed to have their emergency services arrived, ambulance and fire. It was really well done.
BK: That’s good to hear. I like that. How has Hexagon technology supported these efforts?
JW: Really well. So, we… Chief’s vision was, we just need one person.
JW: I don’t need multiple vendors; I need one vendor.
JW: We went to… when we went to market, and we found Hexagon we said, “All right. We’re just going to buy everything that you have and let’s just do that.”
BK: That’s great.
JW: Which really helped because we literally integrated 13 different software sets that Hexagon has into one streamlined application. It was a learning and collaborative process on both sides. It was quite nicely done. And the Hexagon team has supported us immensely, right from just basic conversations that we have with them of like, “Hey, do you think we could do this? And do you think we could do that?” They taught us … their mentality is like, “We’re going to teach you to fish.” And they’ve done that extremely well. We’ve been able to do things ourselves, bring on more departments than we’ve ever had before that we’re dispatching for now. It was all because of the Hexagon team that’s supporting us.
BK: That’s the way it should be. It’s good to hear. What does innovation mean to you?
JW: Innovation to us is how we can be better at what we do with the stuff that we have today. And that means, whether it’s streamlining our processes with applications, getting better at using the stuff that we have to do different things. We have a couple different of these other departments that we dispatched to. They’re not a traditional dispatch environment. We don’t actually, technically dispatch these groups. We take their calls in. We do something with that. We allow them to bring, take the stats out of the software itself –so something as simple as a call take, we do the call take for them. We transfer over their information into an RMS system, that’s a separate agency, and allows them to use it. Zero cost dollar to any of them. And it’s just our time and effort putting against it. So really being revolutionary in that aspect.
BK: Oh, that’s great. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for sharing all of this. This is wonderful. And Jared, thanks for your time.
JW: Thank you very much for having me.
BK: All right. For more information, go check out cpr.ca. That’s cpr.ca. And of course, to learn even more and listen to additional episodes, head over to hxgnspotlight.com and thank you very much for joining us here on HxGN Radio.