Alumni Providing High-Tech Solutions to Crime Fighting, Accident Investigations and Cybersecurity

Monday, December 14, 2015
Randy Ekl shows off high tech sleuthing at Motorola.

A Connected Officer: Randy Ekl, director of advanced systems technology for Motorola Solutions, shows how technology from the new smartbelt keeps track of when and where a police officer pulls a gun from the holster. The location can be found on the computer screen at headquarters.

Alumni are using their engineering and computing skills to bring innovative high-tech solutions to the next generation of law enforcement. They're also helping unravel crash-site mysteries and protecting your emails.

Public safety departments across the country are adopting new crime-fighting aspects of Motorola Solution's Connected Police Officer program. Aspects of the program feature smart belts with sensors that detect when a gun or Taser is pulled from the holster; smart glasses to capture crime scene images and provide text messages from dispatchers; and drone technology to provide broadband connectivity and a birds-eye view of crime and fire scenes.

Aspects of this technology were developed by Randy Ekl, director of advanced systems technology, and Bruce Mueller, director of wireless research, in the Chief Technology Office led by senior director Bruce Oberlies at Motorola Solutions' offices in Schaumburg, Illinois.

"Where there is a need for safety and helping officers do their job better, that's where we're looking to provide assistance," says Ekl, leader of the team on the smartbelt project. "The key is keeping officers clearly focused on what's happening in front of them, and keeping them connected with others that can provide valuable assistance, if necessary. Every second is crucial in these intense situations. Hopefully, we're giving them the ability to do their jobs better."

At Wolf Technical Services, a team of specially trained forensic engineers use their expertise in physics, mathematics, and engineering to analyze and reconstruct motor vehicle and other incidents. Their findings can ensure fair results in court cases, and keep accidents or product failures from recurring.

High Tech Sleuthing Wolf

Survey Says: Wolf Technical Services' forensic engineers Aaron Tolly and Allison Tharp use surveying equipment to measure elevation changes that may have played a role in a motor vehicle crash.

On call 24 hours a day, including weekends, to lend assistance whenever accidents take place are Jessica Ellis, Melissa Montgomery, Allison Tharp, Aaron Tolly, and Zach Wagner.

One of the team's investigations examined aspects of a fiery head-on automobile crash in Wisconsin. It was apparent that one vehicle drifted across the center line just before impact.

"The truth is the truth," Wagner says. "Our job is to do the science."

In Washington, D.C., Will Ackerly has used computer programming skills glistened as a technologist with the clandestine National Security Agency to invent technology that can protect your email and data from criminal hackers desiring to steal it. His startup, Virtru, is setting a new standard for digital privacy and is the first company to make email privacy accessible to everyone. Its single plug-in empowers people and businesses to control who receives, reviews, and retains their digital information wherever it travels, throughout its lifespan.

Emails are hard to protect because very rarely does any single person or system control the only copy. Any given email will have copies made and stored in at least four different places: the sender's computer, the sender's service provider, the recipient's computer, and recipient's provider. Ackerly points out that unless the email is encrypted end-to-end, a rarity in the computer industry, there are at least four different places for a hacker to reach out to get a stored copy, let alone intercept copies of email in transit.

"The number and sophistication of the players are increasing dramatically, and the rules of the game are changing very quickly as well," says Ackerly, named one of Fortune's 2015 "40 Under 40" list of the most influential young people in business.