By Paul Hemsley
The Queensland government will issue 50 police officers across the state with smartphones or a tablet devices containing a new, custom built app that lets them instantly search through person, vehicle and address details on the law enforcement data systems, a move authorities believe can save police crews around 30 minutes each shift.
The mobile technology will be given to selected police officers in a trial that is scheduled to begin in October with an app that was designed by the Queensland Police Service (QPS) and enables officers to make queries “on the beat” rather than returning to the office or their vehicle.
Secure mobile access to information held on restricted law enforcement databases has been a long-held dream of authorities because it can rapidly accelerate the process of identifying and dealing with potential and known offenders more safely.
For example when police officers are in pursuit of or tailing a criminal suspect, the app is expected to give them the ability to send vital queries and get details from the QPS, CRIMTRAC and Department of Transport databases.
Should the Queensland government decide the trial has been successful, mainstream mobile deployment would represent significant upgrade to how police access information from government databases in terms of speed, ease of how they will be able to see and utilises the information on the go.
At the moment the Queensland police officers use a two-way radio system to call a police communications centre and then request a search to be performed. The result is that they have to wait for the information while the radio operator takes the details, checks the information and then relays it back to the officer.
Although the procedure of calling back to base to find out information on suspects is a staple of cop TV and movies, it’s real world weak point is that the amount of information available to officers on the ground is naturally limited by the number of human operators available to process requests.
The manual search routine is a potential bottleneck at peak times for police officers who sometimes have to wait for the results of their request when the contact centre comes under unexpected pressure.
Queensland Minister for Police, Jack Dempsey said that police officers will have all that information “at their fingertips,” which will save their waiting time and allow them to move on to other jobs.
“The QPS will speak regularly to the 50 officers who are trialling the app to see if these benefits are being realised and to ensure the app is performing as intended,” Mr Dempsey said.
One of those benefits is that the government will increase police productivity, a dividend that could allow it to apply more resources in needed areas.
Mr Dempsey said the state government is committed to finding ways to maximise police officers’ time on the road protecting the people of Queensland.
In addition to the creation of the police app, the QPS has also recently purchased 400 mini iPads “set to be trialled soon”, as officers who are issued with them will be expected to test their functionality of a new e-mail and mobile intranet system.
“It is hoped that by giving operational officers this access, they can check their emails from the road rather than having to do it at the beginning or end of their shift in the police station,” Mr Dempsey said.
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