Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office: Reaching Employees in Motion

If you’re one of the 160 investigators or community service and law enforcement officers working at the Child Protective Investigations Division in Tampa, most of your work isn’t in the office. You could be conducting background checks, responding to one of a 1,000 reports that come in each month, taking a child to the doctor, or observing visits with a parent.

As part of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, you spend most of your time in the field. But you also return to the office for roll call or squad meetings, complete computer work and to return phone calls – and that could be any time from 7:00 a.m. until well past midnight.

In such a busy place, reaching those who are always on the move with organizational information is a challenge, says Program Administrator Jennifer Hock. “Reaching them with important updates is critical. We use email, but it’s not extremely effective. The investigators get hit with barrage of email, and it’s hard for them to decipher what’s necessary or what’s to be skipped over.”

So Hock started looking into digital signage software and liked what she saw. For government, procurement means a thorough examination of competing vendors, and three digital signage vendors were carefully evaluated. But Hock was convinced by the offering from Visix. “AxisTV by far was the easiest to use,” she said.

Hock and her team placed eight flat screen LCD displays in easily seen places – high-traffic corridors and where employees gather. For the most part, the new medium reinforces messages already communicated. “Typically what you see on signage has been covered in a meeting. It’s to enhance information that’s already been given out,” she explained, and cited an example: “We had a roll call where vice detectives talked about marijuana grow houses. We showed three bulletins of what to look for. One employee commented that ‘after seeing it a couple of times, the material is stuck in my mind and I know what to look for and how to fit it into an investigation.’”

Hock stresses that she also uses AxisTV for realtime communications, and notes that most of the division has a strong interest in road conditions. “We were glad to get a weather radar image using the web page feature. We have a lot of storms here in Florida. Employees have told us they’ve rearranged their day around that information. We also like to put up traffic info. We have a lot of interstates, and you don’t want to sit on there for two hours.”

A second media player is devoted to public messages for visitors. For both playlists, Hock keeps the process simple. Two approvers identify a message that needs to be presented, send content to one of two creators, who design a message and submit it for approval.

Hock says the ease of use has been important. In the first few months of operation, one of their creators left the team but she was able to easily train her successor. Hillsborough is also one Visix customer sending out communications in both English and Spanish versions.

As part of a government agency, Hock asserts that justifying expense is important, but there are also intangibles. “On the people side of things, we have found that it incites more community within our division.”