Not just for driving anymore

Today's modern patrol cars house more gadgets than kitchens

     At the heart of this new information system is a software platform from Information Builders called WebFOCUS Magnify. Magnify combines BI and search technology that lets officers locate and share data from within their vehicles. The software generates real-time search results to police officers in the field, in conjunction with key performance indicators (KPIs) for supervisors at headquarters. Officers connect to the system through cellular-powered displays in their cars. Entering a brief search string returns header information followed by narrative.

     Drilling down, officers can obtain reports that list all the pertinent information about each incident. For example, if an officer stops a speeding car and performs a quick search of the license plate number, the software could display a police report from earlier in the day in a neighboring city involving a hit-and-run incident, even if the witness at the scene got only part of the license plate number. In this way, a suspect in two crimes could be apprehended through a small piece of shared data.

     During a recent string of Erlanger-area burglaries everything from wrought-iron gates to sewer covers disappeared. Because the crimes were so widespread, individual police departments didn't notice a pattern until some of the stolen goods turned up at a recycling center, which informed all the jurisdictions. Today, if that same situation were to occur, as soon as an officer entered a keyword such as "metal" or "iron" into the Magnify search index, all related incidents would be linked in a one-page report.

Where deployed: Erlanger (5 minutes from Cincinnati).

Cost: Contact company.

7. Secure your laptop

Columbitech Mobile VPN

     The Columbitech Mobile VPN features FIPS 140-2, strong encryption and multi-factor authentication. It provides police laptops and mobile computers with a secure and persistent connection to applications and central databases on the internal network. It also significantly reduces the amount of paperwork, and allows for quick access to mission-critical data from the field. The mobile VPN is application transparent and can protect any application without software changes. Thus departments can increase revenue via faster ticketing and less time spent per incident. With an improved response time, officers can focus on protecting civilians and reducing crimes rather than filling out paperwork. Some agencies have replaced old radio-based systems with much faster 3G cards for their laptops.

Where deployed: Saukville (Wisconsin) Police, Allen County (Ohio) Police, as well as several international police departments (e.g., Sweden and New Zealand). Plus, all branches of the U.S. military: Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. NASA, SPAWAR, the National Guard and NEXCOM also employ Columbitech.

Cost: Contact company for details.

On the technological horizon

     The sky's the limit when it comes to technological advances, particularly mobile ones. Technology that once seemed impossible is now not only up and running, but getting smaller, more mobile and more varied as the industry meets developing needs.

     Another side benefit to the continued development of cutting edge technology: The costs are coming down. Cash-strapped agencies can look forward to price breaks in connection with some of the latest technology - look at the $199 cost with rebate for the REDFLY 7. With bargains like these becoming increasingly available, tomorrow's technology is affordable today.

     A 12-year veteran of police work, Carole Moore welcomes comments at

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