Disruption in Law Enforcement Technology

Disruption is fantastic for technology customers. It “disrupts” expensive, inefficient business models, and replaces them with less expensive faster moving better technology delivery models.

The dictionary definition of disruption is: “thrown into turmoil or disorder.” However, in the world of high-technology, disruption has taken on a different definition.

Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen redefined “disruption” in his book, â€śThe Innovator’s Dilemma.” In short, he argued that a disruptive product addresses a market that previously couldn’t be served or it offers a simpler, cheaper or more convenient alternative to an existing product that completely changes the scale of market adoption.

Some 15 years ago purchasing a new piece of software such as Photoshop, Quicken, or other popular tool required you driving to a store and paying a hundred dollars or more for a box with a disc and a manual inside. Then you drove home, put the disc into your computer, and went through a lengthy installation process. Only after that did you get around to using the product.

Today, the currently available latest version of the Mac operating system, OS X Mavericks is installed or updated in about a minute, using an internet connection from the comfort of the end-user’s own home. Even more disruptive, OS X Mavericks is free.

Online app stores have disrupted the old software-on-a-CD delivery model, dropping costs by orders of magnitude, even to free. Similarly, Netflix disrupted Blockbuster’s in-store movie delivery space. Apple disrupted the entire music industry. And Amazon disrupted not only the book selling business, but is now disrupting the entire retail industry.

Disruption is fantastic for technology customers. It “disrupts” expensive, inefficient business models, and replaces them with less expensive faster moving better technology delivery models.

Almost every other industry has reaped the benefits of the disruption caused by high-speed Internet access through the cloud. The cloud offers affordable software that scales easily, adapts to the user’s needs, and updates constantly. At TASER we have observed this trend; we’ve also observed that it hasn’t yet materialized in the law enforcement sector—the sector we serve.

We find ourselves in the position of wondering “Why?”

And, eventually, “Why not us?”

Law enforcement now faces difficult and unique logistical problems, many of which are IT-related. How do you manage thousands and thousands of pieces of evidence, digital and otherwise? How do you do it securely and reliably? How do you do it when the price of failure is court cases lost, criminals returning to the streets, and a society that isn’t as safe as it should be?

Many police officers are aware of these challenges, and they have found ways to meet them so far. But to the extent that police devote time and resources to these issues, they sacrifice time and effort devoted to the real business of policing: patrolling the streets, investigating crime, and making the world a safer place. These costs aren’t immediately visible, but when summed up they are enormous.

Seeing these challenges, TASER took a page out of the high-tech playbook: we decided to disrupt law-enforcement. We cut the price of our on-officer camera systems from $950 to an entry point of just $299. We similarly cut the price for our Evidence.com digital evidence management system to starting at just $9.95 per month. We are unaware of any such aggressive move in the history of law enforcement.

Our vision is to drive the fastest adoption of new technology in the history of law enforcement. The feedback we’ve gotten so far has been enormously positive. But to achieve our vision, our solutions have to be within reach of every department. It is with all this in mind that we decided to change our pricing model to focus on enabling 100% adoption on a time scale never before seen in this industry.

We believe we may have just tipped off a disruption in the law enforcement space that could lead to dramatic cost reductions and huge increases in the efficient and effective use of technology. It will be exciting to watch over the coming months as things unfold.

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