BeSafe Goes Real-Time With Emergency Services Data

By William Atkinson

BeSafe Technologies offers a suite of products and services designed to provide police and fire departments, EMT and SWAT, and other emergency response personnel with real-time data for advance preparations in emergency situations. BeSafe offers immediate and detailed information to first-response agencies on sites such as campus facilities and buildings. This information includes floor plans, unique building features, and demographics—the type of information that is crucial to first responders who may have only minutes to access, react and respond to chaotic emergency situations inside a facility.

In the past, BeSafe Technologies provided this information to customers, such as hospitals and educational institutions, through offline methods, including CDs, USB drives and printed materials. One problem with this offline approach was that, after the product’s delivery, clients lacked a convenient means to keep the information up to date, and also lacked immediate, anytime access to data packages and safety materials.

To address these drawbacks, BeSafe opted for a web-based solution that would allow clients to collaborate, communicate and maintain their safety-related data and materials. BeSafe decided upon a web portal implementation for the client-facing site, and looked at various open-source solutions to build the site before eventually selecting Liferay Portal, partly because of its cost-efficiency compared with competitors, but also because it provided better business and technological solutions.

“The deciding factor for us was how perfectly Liferay’s role-based access, user groups and organizational structures fit into our vision for our client portal,” says Kevin Harrington, COO of BeSafe. “None of the other considered products matched up.”

BeSafe Opts for Stability

BeSafe implemented the Liferay Portal Community Edition in 2008, and upgraded to the Liferay Portal Enterprise Edition late last year. “The Community Edition is the unlicensed version of the software,” says Harrington. “It’s a great solution for companies to get into a portal-based Website for little to no cost, other than customizations to the source code. The Enterprise Edition tends to be more stable and less likely to have a bug in the code. We decided to migrate to this more stable version due to our experience with the Community Edition.”

BeSafe experienced a few challenges in rolling out the Enterprise Edition. “All of our application code and client data needed to be migrated to the Liferay Portal 6.1 Enterprise Edition environment,” Harrington says. “We had built up over five years of client data, and there were no out-of-the-box scripts available to convert the data into the new database structure.” BeSafe’s developer, Dunn Solutions Group, wrote the custom code to migrate over the client data and once completed, the new portal site worked successfully with BeSafe’s database.

One of the most significant benefits of upgrading to the Enterprise Edition, says Harrington, is the ability to use the Liferay Sync feature, which enables BeSafe’s customers to access their emergency information via a synced folder. “As a result, the data they have on their devices and computers is always current with what is available via our client portal,” Harrington says. “This provides another method of access, as well as eliminating the concern that any file or data set may be out of date.”

About the Author

William Atkinson is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight article, “Visual-Effects Firm Zooms Into Action,” click here.

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