The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is looking to significantly expand its mobile environment in coming months, said AFP Chief Technology Officer Scott MacLeod at the Technology in Government Summit on 25 July 2013. The law enforcement agency has already implemented an Interactive Constable on Patrol System (ICOPS) pilot program with the deployment of mobile devices in police vehicles across the Australian Capital Territory. The pilot devices provide mobile access to AFP's Department-wide Computerised Operational Policing System (COPS). However, in their current form the devices cannot be removed from police vehicles, making them "not quite mobile", said to MacLeod. AFP is now planning beyond the demonstrator model. As well as increased mobility, McLeod envisages an environment that moves beyond the standard COPS system, with "specifically designed interfaces for mobile-style apps". Mobile video screening, number plate recognition and automatic forms are all on MacLeod's wish list. He also wants to link AFP's mobile platform to external agency systems and databases to give police access to additional information. "If you're going to kick the door in to a house, it's really good if you know that they bought two Rottweilers the week before," he said. "Down the track, we could link [the mobile system] with ACT's animal registration system, motor vehicle registry, firearms registry." This should be a two-way system, according to MacLeod, with information entered in AFP mobile devices automatically uploaded to central databases to significantly improve efficiency and business processes. A primary requirement for MacLeod is that solutions be device and operating system agnostic. "I'm not locking into hardware or software," he said. "I hate it. It is the killer of IT departments." The current mobile operating environment at AFP contains a combination of Windows and Apple operating platforms and Apple, Samsung and Dell devices. AFP is in the process of writing a business case and beginning industry engagement for the development of this integrated mobile environment. The Department has also begun developing generic applications with the capacity to be modified to suit AFP's evolving mobile environment. It recently partnered with Telstra for a video streaming application that built on existing spatial technology to transmit CCTV footage to mobile devices across the ACT police force. "Strangely, most of what we're looking at there is done," he said. "Video streaming we already know [can be used with] an ipad or phone, it's not rocket science. We just want to use it for law enforcement." MacLeod wants to see a similar deployment of commercial off-the-shelf solutions tailored to AFP's needs for other mobile functions. "There are so many apps already around the place, often it's just changing something." Although the business case is not yet complete, associated architecture design and security requirements are likely to place development costs in the high six or seven figures, he suggested. The success of this AFP project could have broader implications for police departments across Australia and the world as a result of the similarities in their functions, said MacLeod. "My vision, I want a law enforcement app store we can use around the world."
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