O2 Airwave and Lancashire Constabulary have launched what is thought to be one of the UK's largest ever police handheld mobile data trials. Some 250 police officers and 30 support staff - the entire Lancashire Central Division - will be equipped with O2 Xda II Pocket PC from which they can access a host of information sources. In a pre-trial, the process of a missing person report was reduced from two hours to 20 minutes.
It is hoped that access to mobile data will enable officers to be more efficient and effective, including spending around an hour per shift longer in the community rather than at the police station.
The trial of the O2 Airwave Mobile Application Gateway (MAG) will enable officers to:
Access the Police National Computer (PNC), which contains all national criminal records, wanted and missing persons and stolen vehicles, within seconds. At the moment, officers have to contact their control room to request checks, a process which can take several minutes
Run detailed checks on suspects using Lancashire Constabulary's own local intelligence databases. This will make it virtually impossible for suspected offenders to present false or misleading identities
Receive briefings and tasks from colleagues and supervisors whilst they are on patrol. This will help officers to spend more time in the community and less at the police station
Complete some of their regular reports and update activity logs using electronic forms. These reports will be sent automatically to Lancashire Constabulary's central systems. This facility will help to capture and quickly share vital information more quickly and reduce bureaucracy which, in turn, will help the Force to respond more effectively to incidents such as missing persons and security alerts
Access Lancashire's missing persons database, which enables officers to access and update information about people who have been reported missing locally. Officers will also be able to see a picture of the missing person without having to return to the station
Access a 'crime management facility'. At the start of each shift, officers attend a daily briefing in the station. However, much of this information can now be delivered straight to their handheld device.
The officers will carry O2 Xda II mobile data devices and use O2UK's GPRS network, accessed via the O2 Airwave Mobile Application Gateway (MAG), provided in conjunction with Siemens Communications.
The trial follows a 'proof of concept' programme in which 30 officers used the system operationally for six months. The extended trial will similarly last for six months. Subject to successful evaluation of the pilot it is hoped that Airwave mobile data will be rolled out to approximately 1,500 users throughout the force.