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August 12, 2009

South Yorkshire Police Get Critical Info Live Via Mobiles
By Vivek Naik
TMCnet Contributor

Vodafone has reportedly teamed up with Airpoint to provide a critical service to most of the field officers of the South Yorkshire Police force that makes police records, relevant public information and select reporting forms available live and on demand on the officers’ mobile phones.



“Enabling our officers to access key information on the move is a major step forward and we’re expecting to see the community benefit from a more visible force continually patrolling the neighbourhoods,” said Sergeant Simon Davies, project manager at South Yorkshire Police Force, in a release.

Officials at Vodafone (News - Alert) claim that this is the first time that officers have been given access to police information and records while patrolling or generally surfing around the country side during investigations, and the new offering also has built-in form filling formats so that on the spot information can be instantly filled in based on mild question and answer sessions with suspects and citizens.

“We have been looking at ways to streamline the way we work, as our processes are either paper based or rely on IT systems, only accessible in the station,” said Sergeant Davies.

Vodafone claimed that immediate filling of forms live via officers’ mobiles can save up to weeks of effort due to correcting wrongly filled up forms. The typical scenario used to be: Stop a person to ask about their behaviour which may be construed as unruly, teasing, harassing or drunken in nature; note down somewhere all answers including name, address proof, license and phone number; repeat the process in case any more incidents crop up on the same patrol; return back to the station after the beat is over; fetch the appropriate forms; fill up the forms; and, submit these to the concerned departments.

One can very well imagine the information getting mixed up between cases, and especially if the officer has had a particularly stressful time making an arrest or two, or just dealing with seriously unreasonable miscreants. Vodafone says a business analyst recently found that it can take an average of five weeks to enter a ‘Stop and Account’ form into the database and even longer if the form is submitted incorrectly, and in 2008 alone, 855 working days were spent inputting these forms, combined with a high return rate for incorrect entries.

Officials at Vodafone claim that the new ‘one of a kind’ mobile service will be officially made available in October this year, and allows officers to access police records to identify a person, vehicle or location and complete digital forms. Trial runs have already indicated significant savings in time, major improvements in accuracy and efficiency, and, more importantly, trained frontline police officers being where they are needed and where the action usually is – amongst the public and in the neighbourhood.

Vodafone has recommended and obtained clearance for the use of Blackberry mobile devices for this particular purpose, and these handsets are synced up with the Police National Computer from where IT officials have the authority to remotely shut off these devices in case they are lost or stolen, and, at the bare minimum, guarantee that all info is wiped out so that it does not fall in to the wrong hands.

Officials claim that the South Yorkshire Police secured NPIA funding for the project to enable them to provide each police officer with a handheld device equipped with police specific applications and using the Vodafone network and its professional communications services expertise.

A recent report claimed that Vodafone is at the top of the list of a recent survey that found 200,000 new mobile connections are added every month in the UK at an average contract of $ 22.2 per month over 12 months. When considering existing and added connections, the monthly average available business is $53.28 mil per month in this segment alone.

Other statistics, too, add credence to this growing trend. While the home broadband market demand is steady and encouraging, the pertinent figure is that mobile broadband grew from 32 percent of all broadband sales in October, 2008 to more than 50 percent in January, 2009. By comparison, the mobile broadband sales in January, 2008, were only 10 percent of total broadband services. This gives an idea of how the trend graph took shape.

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Vivek Naik is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Vivek's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

 

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