My grandfather (whom we call Pop) suffers from Dementia. He’s had it for several years now, and though medication is slowing the process, his decline has been steady. As many Dementia patients do, Pop gets extremely frustrated and upset when he encounters a situation where his memory fails him. Sometimes, he gets so upset that he decides he needs to go for a walk around the neighborhood. The issue is that he can’t always find his way home, and he either doesn’t take his cellphone with him, or he refuses to answer it. My family has driven around the city a few times looking for Pop on one of his “angry walks,” and it’s as scary for him as it is for us. Imagine being furious about something that you may or may not recall, and suddenly you look around and have no idea how to get back home.
A majority of people are close to someone similar to my Pop – a vulnerable person suffering with cognitive impairment or disease, a severe mental health crisis, or an intellectual disability. For many of these conditions, wandering is a probable and prevalent side effect. Due to the conditions at hand, the lost individual may not be able to accurately communicate the situation they find themselves in, or how police can contact their families back at home. To improve the ability of first responding officers to handle situations involving these vulnerable people, ImageSoft created SafeEncounter, a community database that helps law enforcement identify at-risk dependents and bring them home safely.
What Is SafeEncounter?
SafeEncounter is a cloud-based database that can be used by law enforcement to help identify and care for individuals found wandering or lost who have a condition that impedes communication with the officers. While the idea of creating this type of database is not necessarily new, the technology SafeEncounter uses very much is. We’ve encountered (no pun intended) several districts that rely on paper profiles stored in a binder in the main office. It’s great to have important information on hand, but a single binder back at headquarters won’t do a responding officer much good on the scene. SafeEncounter digitizes the process, allowing all authorized users to view profiles from anywhere. All police vehicles are equipped with a laptop or computer, so any officer on duty can search the SafeEncounter database and identify the individual in question in just minutes. Profiles on SafeEncounter are created and added by the vulnerable dependent’s family. It is not at all mandatory, but family and friends are likely to join the free program to ensure their loved one’s safety.
Features and Highlights
SafeEncounter was designed specifically to help law enforcement safely bring at-risk members of the community home safely and swiftly. In order to set officers and users up for success, the platform has several unique features to help the process become smoother and more efficient.
- Map view: SafeEncounter allows officers to view listed dependents in a map view. This helps law enforcement to keep track of vulnerable people in their community and can be used to locate a dependent’s home during a crisis. In many wandering cases that are called in soon after the person leaves, they can be found somewhere nearby. The map view of SafeEncounter can help officers find an area of interest, follow routes, and identify nearby places the dependent is likely to be.
- Mobile access: As previously mentioned, SafeEncounter can be searched directly from an officer’s mobile laptop/computer. There are also options to view SafeEncounter from your mobile phone, bringing on-the-go to a whole new level. Authorized officers can view the database on mobile devices, and the dependent’s family can create and edit profiles from anywhere. By placing the platform at your fingertips, SafeEncounter is able to speed up the process of returning a loved one home safely, reducing anxiety for the family and minimizing distress to the found wanderer.
- Detailed, editable profiles: Dependent profiles are user-generated, typically by family or friends. Profiles include all important information including:
- Pictures of the dependent
- Physical descriptions
- Details of medical or mental conditions
- Spots or events of interest
- Family contact information and address
- Tips for defusing a situation specific to the individual
New profiles and all edits are sent to the authorized districts for review. An officer can request more information, or approve the profile and it is automatically added to or updated in the system.
- Cross-district authorization: In some cases, a wandering individual can cross district lines before being found. SafeEncounter allows profile creators to authorize multiple districts to view their dependent’s information. Law enforcement typically only deals with cases in their district, so this functionality improves communication and can make neighboring areas privy to vital information about at-risk individuals. The creator of the profile can decide which districts have access to their dependent, and they can choose as many as they’d like. Any district using SafeEncounter will be an available option.
- Quick search options: In a stressful or dangerous situation, time is of the essence. I know that if my Pop was lost and a police officer came across him, I’d want the situation rectified ASAP. SafeEncounter takes the guesswork out of the job by allowing officers to search the database by name, description, age, location, or other identifying characteristics that have been included in the profile. When the dependent cannot communicate clearly, officers sometimes have little to no information to go off. SafeEncounter quick searches can help narrow down the options and find the right person much quicker than sorting through page after page of a binder.
Who is Eligible?
SafeEncounter is an ongoing solution that we hope to expand to feature many disabilities and conditions. In our initial release, SafeEncounter focuses on the most common and most serious conditions that may cause wandering behavior. We wanted to offer a helping hand to the members of the community who are incapable of communicating effectively with anyone in the area. Examples of eligible conditions include:
- Down’s Syndrome
- Severe Bipolar Disorder
- Non-Verbal Behavior
These groups often struggle to express themselves in a way that would help first responders identify them and learn about their family contact information. Rather than drawing out the experience and causing distress, SafeEncounter can be used to do the communication for the child or dependent.
We are extremely excited to announce SafeEncounter, and we know it’s going to positively impact the lives of thousands. ImageSoft is a technology company, but we have always held a person-first mindset. SafeEncounter utilizes the extremely secure Microsoft Azure Government Cloud as well as custom-code technology, but it’s unlike any product we’ve released previously. It’s become a passion project for everyone involved, and our team has shared many stories about loved ones who would benefit from the program. My Pop is just one example, but the team is closely affected by Autism, severe mental health disorders, Alzheimer’s, and more. We hope to assist in protecting these people by giving first responders access to information like they’ve never had before.
Visit our website for the SafeEncounter webpage, and keep an eye out for the official Press Release and additional resources.