This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
Body-worn cameras, laptops, smartphones and mobile working -all those things sounded like science fiction to the Metropolitan police officers not long time ago. But now, what started as a way to cut expenses is turning police work to be easier for Metropolitan police officers.
As police forces up and down the country face wide-reaching cuts, the Metropolitan Police is increasingly turning towards technology trends like mobile working and the paperless office to cut down on waste and increase efficiencies with dwindling resources. Just what is the tech that the average officer has access to on the beat?
“The Met has historically been terrible at giving us any kind of gadgets,” says one officer who wishes to remain anonymous. But Metropolitan police has recently started rolling out more and more tech, including an initiative to have every patrol officer equipped with a body-worn camera.
As techworld.com wrote, at least one body-worn camera is available to every officer now. Taser subsidiary Axon supplies the cameras and the management software, while Microsoft Azure provides the cloud storage. “Microsoft is a long-term Metropolitan police trusted partner,” Adrian Hutchinson, the mobile technology lead for the Met and an advocate of the body-worn camera programme said. “They approached us with Axon Taser, with an almost seamless opportunity to store our data securely within the UK. It’s made life a lot easier for the first 3,500 cameras that have been rolled out.”
One of the few place that policemen were able to find gadgets were their Squad cars, which were used to be fitted out with a simple, quite old touch-screen device. There’s currently a trial in some stations to fit police cars with better devices.
Much of police officers’ work is office-based. Investigators who spend most of their time in the office will receive a hybrid laptop-tablet device. Windows-based tablets will be given to front-line officers who are out on the call. Some officers also receive smartphones, and of course, their walkie-talkies – which are encrypted, unlike for some forces outside of the UK like in America.
As we pointed out before, the police are now in a state of wide expense cutting, and one of the elements of this process is closing some of the police stations.
“The reality is that police stations are disappearing and having to be sold, so having people able to work from anywhere is the ultimate goal, I think,” one officer said. “They will be doing away with standard workstations as well. They’re just going to have docks for whatever device people have.”
To realize that, the stations that are open are undergoing a drive towards paperless offices. Devices like the tablets and laptops sync with one another, so a file saved on one will be available on another, and one of the strong benefits of this move is not having to return to the office every time a report needs filing. Also, police officers no longer have to print everything out anymore.
Then there are more cutting-edge technologies on the horizon, with one department in Durham trialing AI software to see if suspects would re-offend if released, and the deployment of the first drone-flying unit.
“It’s a pretty obvious efficiency when you look at it,” one officer said about the investments in technology made by the Metropolitan police. “It’s something that also, we have been so far behind in technology for so long – some offices still have a few Windows XP computers. When I started all computers were on Windows XP.”