San Jose Police Department

Like many cities, San Jose, California, is struggling to control crime while budget shrinks. To increase officers’ efficiency, the San Jose police department (SJPD) wanted to run a pilot project to learn how a database system might reduce the time officers spend on paperwork, increasing their time on the streets.

Sgt. Ralph Garner of the SJPD’s Communications Division asked Al Pettis, a Business Development Executive at Apple, to meet to discuss the project. Al asked us to attend the meeting to help consider software needs.

The software had to be easy to use, completely dependable, and the printed output had to match existing forms. They first asked us if the software can be written in time for the project kickoff – in two and a half weeks! Relishing the challenge, we asked: “When do we start?”

We took a few days to consider the file and record structure. The template should hold hundreds of cases and be compact enough to quickly and easily back up. Unlike other platforms, all of the officer’s work would be done in one file. There would be three main areas of development: writing the basic program, creating the background (lines, text, and boxes), and most importantly, creating an easy-to-use, Fail-Safe interface. During the development, we showed evolving prototypes to the department to make sure they’re the template met their needs. Two weeks later we customize the software for each officer and installed “CrimeBuster” (as we called it) on their laptops.

The officers received personalized software and with only two hours of training, were able to begin writing reports. Data entry is performed on screens where all information is displayed without scrolling. An “Intelligent printing system” indicates which forms need to be printed.

At the end of the project, questionnaires completed by the officers were analyzed by Professor Steven Kwan of the San Jose State University School of Business. He found an overwhelming preference for CrimeBuster, which was “equal or markedly superior in all categories…the analyses warrant a recommendation that the SJPD consider the software as THE platform for use by their officers.”

At a press conference announcing the results of the project, Chief of Police Luis Cobarruviaz congratulated the CrimeBuster team on their success and noted “This, to me, is very, very key to how we shape the department in the future. It’s related to what we hope to do in terms of our record management system down the road and how we integrate all these parts.”


Rana Creek Ranch

As Ranch Manager at Rana Creek Ranch, Kent Heneks is responsible for the breeding and care of over a thousand head of cattle on 15,000 acres of range land in California’s Carmel Valley. He is developing purebred cows, the Ranchers Choice brand, that have low birth weights for easy calving and high wean weights for quick growth. These qualities combined make for a commercially desirable cow with high market value.

A cattle ranch manager spends a lot of time on the range, to care for and feed the cattle and to maintain the pasture land and Ranch equipment. Kent was too often stuck in his office, struggling to keep track of the “paperwork heard” instead of being out on the Range taking care of business. The lawyers and accountants for the ranch always seem to have another request for information, and keeping herd data up to date was becoming more and more difficult. He needed record-keeping that would allow him to get out of his chair and back into the saddle.

Kent asked us to come to the ranch and see if we could help. We met with Kent over the office swamp cooler on a particularly hot summer day. Well comfortable using the Mac, Kent was trying to use spreadsheets and “works” programs where a database was needed. There were some interesting challenges including a need for genealogy charts and calving / breeding performance histories. Also, Kent had “inherited” a variety of “cow numbering” systems, each perfectly logical and its own right in each supported “in the flesh” by the traditional brand on the animal. Driving out of the ranch, John past a group of cows and calves and thought a “record is a cow…”

We research the information needed at the ranch by the accountants in the parent corporation, and designed a custom database converting Kent’s contribution to developing the Ranchers Choice breed over the past 6 years. He created scripts and layouts that simplified the entry and Reconciliation long-neglected records of births, weaning, and sales. Since cattle-raising his long periods were little database activity occurs, the automated procedures for easy recall, using the ranch logo for buttons.

Working with us got Kent the tools needed to manage their heard on paper as well as he already did on the hoof. By combining the traditions and culture of Cattleman with the information needs of the City Slickers back in town, we helped Kent get back on the range, while improving record accuracy and providing the detailed information needed in a modern business. With the system installed and training complete, Kent allowed that “for the first time in my life, I’m excited about keeping records of the herd!”

Wonderful to Work With

I have been working with a company called Cerné LLC over the past year. I began working with them for simple projects like writing macros codes for use in excel to help streamline large sets of data analysis literally at the click of a button. I have also been working with them on designing a laboratory data management database to track and organize all of the information collected during our studies much like what is done in Industry. Most recently they are designing a database for me to track the success of individual rats within my resident colony (the “bullies” in my resident-intruder social defeat paradigm). I have been very pleased with my communications with them and their data solutions are completely customizable to the specific needs of the study. I am thoroughly impressed with my communication with the data specialist I been working with at Cerné, Noah Harris, and feel confident that they could design a system based on feedback from the [potential client] that will fulfill their needs.”

Dr. Susan K. Wood, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuroscience
University of South Carolina SoM