July 27th, 2009, 07:32 AM
Law enforcement application enabled for web using Visual WebGui
"With Visual WebGui the application runs with excellent performance while under even the tightest of bandwidth constraints…and provides secure by design applications which are extremely important when connecting via cell phone modems." --Robert Johnson, SES Investigator Project Manager
The SES Investigator application is a tool developed to allow law enforcement investigators to store case information in a central repository that is accessible and shared with other investigators in the task force. In the past, the only real way to discover crime scene and crime patterns information would be to speak to the other detectives. The new SES Investigator application tracks all the information in a central database which is accessible to all investigators.
When license plates or cell phone numbers are entered into the system, for example, other cases or individuals that the numbers are associated with become visible. This allows investigators to see the larger patterns and trends and produce stronger cases with more evidence to be presented at trial. The application has helped a number of cases to be brought to trial which otherwise probably would not have. The benefit is easily seen in the larger agencies where crime information from various jurisdictions and territories are now searchable by other officers.
The main reasons that lead for the development of this new version of the Investigator application was the requirement to move from a single user version to a multi-user version that would also allow the system to be used while still in the field. On top of that, the original requirements of the previous application and the capability to duplicate the existing look & feel and functionality, were a must.
One of the most important requirements was the ability to operate both while connected to the internal LAN and over the Internet in a highly secure manner. In addition, the application needed to be very responsive and operate reasonably well even with poor Internet connectivity. The first version of the application was a standard ASP.NET application, using heavy UI controls from Infragistics and Developer Express. While this found to be a great solution on the LAN, when the application was used in the field, it became completely unusable.
The main reason for this is that investigators use cell phone modems to connect the tablet PCs to the Internet. So bandwidth was very limited, especially when they are in an area with poor signal strengths. As a result, the ASP.NET application was modified while making a significant use of AJAX and asynchronous callbacks to pull data. While this was a vast improvement, it still proved not as usable as needed in the field so there was a need to find a better fitting technology for that solution.
It was also important that after the right technology is chosen and the application is developed it would be very easy and painless to maintain and deploy.
Visual WebGui (http://www.visualwebgui.com) was chosen to develop the third version. After the first two versions of the SES Investigator Internet application that used standard ASP.NET and ASP.NET AJAX did not provide good enough performance over the web, the team looked for a new technology.
The lead developer bumped into Visual WebGui and after spending a few hours researching and developing a proof of concept demo, the decision was made to completely redevelop using Visual WebGui. While this meant scrapping months of work, and extending the projects deadline by a few months, it turned out to be the best choice.
Development at first was a bit rocky since this was a new framework and many times we were using the unstable beat versions. But the team managed to produce a stable application that is better than the previous versions and has been successfully installed in 3 critical task forces.
Using Visual WebGui enabled the SES Investigator application to finally reach the most important requirement of usability and performance in the field. "With Visual WebGui the application runs with excellent performance while under even the tightest of bandwidth constraints. Additionally, Visual WebGui's unique architecture and protocol provides secure by design applications which is extremely important when connecting via cell phone modems," said Robert Johnson, SES Investigator Project Manager.
The officers and detectives are very pleased with the new application. Using the previous desktop version tied them to their offices, now using the new Internet based application they are free to enter data and relevant information as they come across it in the field. This speeds up the response times and in the end results in more accurate data and better trial outcomes.
Moreover, Visual WebGui presented the team with a tool that allows developing functional applications very easily, especially when converting from a desktop application. It also provides an excellent migration path for users from a desktop application to an Internet based program allowing the same methods and familiar user interfaces.
Finally, Visual WebGui applications are, as required, extremely easy to deploy and maintain. There is also a large involved community that provides constant assistance and support when needed.
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