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From Handwritten Reports to an Integrated Incident Management System

Quick Stats

26,000 employees
180 employees in Security
180,000 activities per year
Boston, MA Location

Applications Used

  • Activity Tracking & Dispatch
  • Incident Reporting
  • Investigation & Case Management
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Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), is a founding partner of the Partners HealthCare System, Inc. (Partners) a large system comprised of 12 hospitals and other divisions with 110,000 employees, the largest employer in Massachusetts. MGH is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. It is the third oldest hospital in the United States. It also conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the world and has recently been ranked as the #1 hospital in the United States.

26,000 employees spread across various campuses including downtown Boston, and six satellite facilities in the surrounding areas.

Physical Security at MGH

The security department at MGH includes 185 personnel. Of this number, 125 are licensed police officers that have the power of arrest on Mass Gen property. The security infrastructure includes Access Control Systems using Honeywell Enterprise Building Integrator (EBI) for facility-wide building automation, and 1100 CCTV cameras using a combination of legacy analog and newer IP cameras all managed by a Milestone video management system.

The Move to Incident Management Automation

Bob Leahy, CPP, PSP; is MGH’s Senior Manager, Systems and Technology within the Police, Security, and Outside Services department. Bob has a very interesting background when it comes to Security. A perfect tie to Incident Management. He has been with MGH for 28 years, starting out as a co-op student, while going to school as a criminal justice major. Once he received his Bachelors in Criminal Justice, he went to law school, and received his Juris Doctorate. After passing the bar, he practiced from 1984 to 1999. That’s the year he came back to MGH, starting as a security officer, then worked through the operations group, became a manager, then transferring to the Systems & Technology group. He has been manager of that division since 2004.

MGH has been a Perspective customer since before Perspective. They had the previous generation of the product since the late 90’s. Back then, administrative personnel would take handwritten reports, and other data, re-entering it into the system. Since 2001, they’ve deployed the software to the officers.

MGH captures 180,000 activities in Perspective each year. About 3,600 become incidents that are related to safety, lost property, power outages, basically any occurrence that is ‘out of the norm’ as Bob describes it.

Implementation Experience

The big change to the department came in 2001 when they went from template driven report documents, to having officers enter reports directly into IRIMS, the predecessor to Perspective. “That was a bit of change for both management and our officers” says Bob. “They are a smart crew, the majority of our officers have undergraduate degrees and are no strangers to computers, but change is always tough”. Bob made the argument to management that if the officers started entering their own information, the department would be saving time, and using information that came from the system more often. Also, there would be less opportunity for error. Bob’s boss, Bonnie Michelman, Director of Police, Security and Outside Services has stated “none of the success would have been possible without Bob’s tenacity, innovation, and creativity in customizing and training this system correctly for our environment and usage”

A small example is in how officers had different terminology for the same locations. “With a system like Perspective, there is only one way to describe one thing. It was common for buildings to go by multiple names which impacted our ability to report on incident information.”

Good Data Makes for Good Decisions

Bob and his team are doing a number of things with the data they collect. A lot of it is in the dissemination of reports to their officers. “We are able to publish a list of ‘hotspots’ bi-weekly” says Bob. This report goes to the officers and tells them trends on where incidents are occurring, any and all patterns that they are able to see. “This type of information allows us to redirect resources appropriately.”

Bob’s team also provides quarterly analysis that is sent to senior managers who can view statistics such as the nature of incidents, where they occur, and response rates. This type of aggregated information allows management to make decisions or changes as appropriate. A recent example is related to their investment in CCTV data. “We started asking officers to track their use of CCTV information in their incident investigation. We were finding that the information provided helped validate the need for additional cameras. Not having this information would have made the case for additional cameras more difficult”

Subject to Compliance

As they are considered a campus, MGH must supply the FBI with a Uniform Crime Report (UCR), information that comes directly from Perspective. They are also subject to the Clery Act, a federal statute that applies to any institution that is considered a campus, which is also compiled using Perspective.

Advice for Others?

Bob suggests that anyone who is about to embark on the implementation of an Incident Management system should first “determine what you want to do with the information. The old adage of ‘garbage in, garbage out’ is especially relevant to this sort of system”. Bob had a great example related to VIP Escorts. “We needed to track the nature of security escorts. We receive a lot of requests for escorts. We started categorizing them by patient, VIP, staff member, and visitor requests. We do up to 20 VIP escorts a day and these can tie up a vehicle and a resource. When we are doing a VIP escort, that personnel is not doing patrols. This helps us to explain officer productivity and budget decisions”.

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