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Mass tablet roll out boosts SA Police mobility

by Poppy Johnston •
Free resource

Topics: Hardware; Digital Transformation; SA.

A fleet of around 855 durable, portable Panasonic Toughbooks will replace the current fixed in-car computing devices used by South Australian Police (SAPOL), meaning frontline officers are no longer “tethered to a desk” and can complete administrative tasks on the move.

According to SAPOL Superintendent Scott Allison, the manager of the SA Police IS&T Innovation and Solutions Branch, the Mobile Rugged Tablets (MRT) will “almost eliminate the need for our frontline officers to return to their stations to complete paperwork”.

“This gives us the benefits of both 'in-vehicle' computing and the portability to capture, retrieve and submit information in the field.”

e-signature capabilities built into the devices will allow officers to obtain signatures and store them on the devices rather than on paper.

The SA government has provided $7.4 million over five years to implement the equipment, with early training and roll out commencing in November 2016.

The decision followed a successful trial in the Elizabeth Local Service Area, which identified time savings of about 15 minutes per shift for each frontline officer.

The Panasonic Toughbooks are already being used by Crime Scene investigators and 680 of the devices will be installed in SAPOL vehicles. The remaining devices will be pooled for use by second officers in the fleet.

The new mobile devices are part of a broader vision intended to optimise SAPOL’s workforce and operations. The plans, documented in the SAPOL 2020 Roadmap, include rezoning the boundaries of designated patrol districts and complementing these new districts with 24/7 “District Policing Teams” to attend to urgent public matters.

According to SA Commissioner of Police Grant Stevens speaking in December 2016, a staged roll out of new technologies – including computer, video, facial recognition and digital tools – will underpin organisational changes within SAPOL.

Systems to enhance mobility have already been deployed in a number of Australian police departments – including Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia – with some of the early adopters like the Queensland Police Service (QPS) already starting to add new features and capabilities to existing mobile systems to further improve operational efficiencies.

Consisting of more than 5000 devices, the QPS mobile fleet is supported by an optimised mobile system called ‘QLiTe’. In October 2016, the force upgraded the QLiTe app with a dispatch management tool to reduce police radio congestion. The “QTasks” tool allows officers and police communication centres to see and map non-critical jobs by location and severity. 

In November 2016, QPS further freed officers from hand-written tasks by allowing citizens to choose between MMS, email and mail notices as an alternative to handwritten on-the-spot ticketing for traffic infringements.

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