Hartford CT March 17 2017 Seven months ago, Jim Routh got an invitation from another "Jim" to take a look at the project his department was working on.
Routh, Aetna's chief security officer for cyber and physical security, took his similarly named colleague, Hartford Police Chief James Rovella, up on the offer: a tour of the police Real-Time Crime and Data Intelligence Center.
"To be honest, I had the perspective that I wouldn't be all that impressed," Routh, a self-described "geek by trade," said recently. "Boy, was I wrong."
From that summertime meeting grew a robust partnership that Routh said is mutually beneficial. It's one that aims to keep Aetna's employees safe and boost the resources available to the city's police.
"I learned about technology to improve what we're doing today, strategies that will end up reducing our time spent on internal investigations by a minimum of 20 percent," Routh said. "I got exposure to that through HPD, and if I hadn't gone over and met with them and kicked the tires, I wouldn't have that knowledge.
Routh admitted that the reciprocal partnership is in line with the recent commitment by Aetna and the other insurance-industry giants in Hartford to donate $50 million for the betterment of the city. But he stressed that it predated that pledge by several months and exists as a parallel effort.
The other major companies party to that pledge, The Hartford and Traveler's, also work with police. Spokesmen from both companies said they maintain close relationships with the police department, particularly through their work with the Police Athletic League.
But neither have expressed the involvement with technology and security described by Aetna.
"Aetna's commitment to their campus safety and investment in the safety of the surrounding community demonstrates how valuable of a committed partner they are to the city of Hartford and the police department," Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said. "There are a lot of things in the works, from basic campus security and preparations for critical incidents to long-term infrastructure investments in software and security surveillance."
On the Aetna side, that translates to keeping the sprawling corporate campus on Farmington Avenue safe. A portion of that is linking the company's security cameras into the police department's surveillance network, for the benefit of keeping an eye on the surrounding neighborhood.
But the sharing of technology and information doesn't end there. This burgeoning partnership includes more detailed training for crises including workplace violence, such as active shooter drills, said Routh.
He argued that the benefits of those drills extend beyond the people on the company payroll.
"We're in an urban environment, and what happens in our facility could very easily spill out in the area around our campus," he said. "It's important to minimize the danger, to avoid lives lost and impact on the neighborhood."
This emphasis on modernity also extends to how information is stored. For instance, previously, his department would provide paper copies of the headquarters' blueprints to police in case of an emergency situation. But a piece of paper on file does little help to a sergeant responding to a call for service.
Routh and his team are working to help police digitize some of their files and "automate" the filing process in the first place, allowing documents to be reviewed by officers when time is of the essence.
"What they've described is that there are internal documents that take weeks for the crime team to access, and they want to figure out how to apply technology early on and make it more efficient," he said. "With our help, we can work to reduce that lag time in getting information."
Both Routh and Foley said that the full extent of the partnership hasn't been determined yet. But they're confident it'll be worth the effort.
"We can't understate all the things Aetna does in our community, and I think it’s important for everyone to recognize that," Foley said. "This is just one example."