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In most industries, being unable to access the right information can be costly and inefficient. But in law enforcement, it can be inconvenient—even deadly.

“Officers respond to calls uninformed of safety precautions,” says Elk River, MN Police Chief Jeffrey Beahen bluntly. “They’re on the scene without knowing if the suspect has any violent history, if they own any guns – nothing.” Once back at the station, he says, the real work began – only it wasn’t exactly police work.

There’s little in life that’s more elemental than water. And yet, in most developed countries, it’s easy to take access to safe water and sanitation for granted.

Prior to the creation of the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (CCCSD) in 1946, however, Contra Costa County—located east of San Francisco, CA—was in crisis. A post-war building boom had brought an influx of new residents, most of them relying on septic systems that didn’t take well to the area’s heavy adobe clay soil. With septic tanks overflowing and waterborne diseases such as typhoid becoming a potential threat, health authorities considered the polluted conditions in the county to be among the worst in California.

As a result, the CCCSD was formed as a special district, a sewer system and treatment plants were put in place, and the public received much-needed access to safe water and sanitation.