The Future of the Mobile Workforce: Police Technology
On a typical day, law enforcement officers use mobile devices more than any other tool. This trend is expected to continue as agencies maintain a distributed workforce. As agencies evolve practices and procedures for these workforces in the weeks, months and years ahead, one thing is clear: advanced police technology and connectivity will shape their decisions around mobile solutions and operational plans for the future.
New Police Technology in the Age of Remote Work
While the latest mobile solutions help departments adhere to remote working and sanitization measures, advances in law enforcement technology will leave a noticeable impact on the way law enforcement officers perform their jobs for years to come.
Many departments have already or will continue to grapple with a 1:1 device-to-worker ratio to avoid the potential contamination that can occur when sharing devices. Agencies will also continue to prioritize the use of solutions that can withstand sanitization requirements while still providing key features like contactless authentication and glove-touch functionality.
More agencies are now leveraging advanced police technology like virtual reality (VR) to further accelerate remote work capabilities and training, especially. Not only does VR support social distancing by enabling officers to learn and train independently and remotely, but it also offers a realistic setting to safely expose officers to different scenarios that test both physical and emotional response. Currently, agencies are looking to adopt VR models, but cost and the availability of providers to set up the solution are preventing them from being able to take full advantage. In the coming months, it’s likely that more VR providers will enter the space and introduce departments to the benefits of the technology.
In the years ahead, we’ll see more agencies adopt Android because it encourages remote device management and enables greater security. As software moves to the cloud, officers will be able to gather, record and share real-time data with practically any device. The ability to download and monitor this data on any mobile device is critical in terms of streamlining communication and clearing radio traffic. Since Android devices are more cost-effective, they offer greater affordability for departments. While there are still many Windows-based applications on the market, there will be a comparable Android app for all of them.
Police Laptops With Reliable Connectivity
Departments understand that their officers can only be as effective as their connection to others and critical systems. Therefore, in the coming weeks, many will continue to seek rugged devices that offer more reliable connectivity than consumer-grade devices.
FirstNet topped 14K subscribing agencies in October 2020, and it’s in the process of updating to 5G. Law enforcement agencies are already witnessing the impact 5G will have in terms of creating greater efficiency and helping officers best serve the community. 5G will not only support the development of emerging technologies like VR and IoT location capabilities, but it can enable more devices to connect to the network — such as body cameras, police laptops, and mobile devices for e-ticketing and reporting purposes. As more devices connect to the network, the quality of 5G service becomes critical.
5G will also allow officers and dispatch centers to live stream videos and access data in real time. Likewise, 5G will expand IoT location capabilities. Since 2009, police laptops have been equipped with a location-based security feature. Now 5G will bring those capabilities to more of the tools officers use every day, like phones and radios. The feature will also be on wearable devices where an alarm will sound if an officer’s heart rate hits a dangerous threshold or if an officer becomes separated from his or her device by a certain distance. Dispatch centers could leverage data transmitted by wearables to better support officers by remotely controlling vehicle functions and releasing canines remotely. Through scenarios like these, 5G will pair with police technology to help support the safety of officers so they can better serve their communities.
Looking to the Future of Police Technology
The shift to remote work has already encouraged law enforcement agencies to turn to new solutions for enhanced officer efficiency and safety. In the weeks, months and years ahead, new developments in advanced police technology and connectivity will help officers leverage large quantities of data to increase situational awareness and help them make more informed decisions to best serve the community.