Strong communication enables more effective policing. Continual advancement of technology has seen police forces use on-person and in-vehicle portable radios to communicate. Mobile data terminals, GPS units and cellphones allow these users to receive messages and information from central databases and control centers. This technology however is becoming increasingly dated in comparison to the technology available to the average consumer.
As smartphone adoption has increased to a majority of the population, phone companies continually strive to attract consumers through functionality. As innovation drives the market, there have been significant achievements in both multifunctionality and portability. As such, it seems almost anachronistic that the police force still uses such a wide variety of devices.
Police forces around the world have trialled and in some cases adopted this new technology. While digital radios are still primary communication tools, there has been use of both smartphones and tablets as secondary tools for computing purposes – the purpose has been to use the functionality of these devices to allow officers to patrol the community rather than sit at their desks.
My personal experiences and familiarity with smartphones leads me to question the role of consumer smartphones in a police environment. Smartphones are designed for the consumer – sleek and aesthetic as opposed to long lasting and durable like the generations of radio systems used by police officers. With the rough and tumble of police work and their environment the drop and shattering of screens seems inevitable.
The technology does present a huge opportunity. My research identifies that police communication and computing equipment lack multifunction. Rather than introducing another device, there is an opportunity to provide the most essential functions in one device that can be used on-foot or in-vehicle. The technology in smartphones shows the possibility of a compact and multifunctional device.
Research into the needs of police officers and their work, whether it be in-vehicle or on-foot has led to the design of this multifunctional ‘all-in-one’ system. This system consists of four products: the back device, handheld controller/receiver, inductive charging seat support and in-vehicle touch display.
The back device houses and protects the digital radio and smartphone computing technologies needed by the modern policemen. This device is charged wirelessly by an in-vehicle inductive charging seat support. The functions provided by the technologies in the back device are utilised through the handheld controller for on-the-go function and by an in-vehicle mounted touch displayed that connects wirelessly to the back device via WiDi (Wireless Display).
The functions provided to officers through these control devices are work-orientated applications that allow text and information transfer between the officer and dispatch centre, the ability to search local and national databases and GPS.
Overall this concept represents an alternative method of implementing the advance computing capabilities demonstrated by smartphones and combining it with the existing technologies in one multifunctional system. Unlike the smartphone this system has been designed to be strong and durable for the police work environment and physical confrontations that may arise.