Tablets deliver ‘multiple benefits’

More than 300 officers at City of London Police have been issued with tablet devices that “effectively give them access to their desktop when working operationally”. The force says it wanted to deploy the latest mobile technology to cut down on administration and associated costs and to allow officers to spend more time in the community helping the public.

Nov 8, 2017
By Paul Jacques

More than 300 officers at City of London Police have been issued with tablet devices that “effectively give them access to their desktop when working operationally”. The force says it wanted to deploy the latest mobile technology to cut down on administration and associated costs and to allow officers to spend more time in the community helping the public.

It believes that alongside the police radio, the tablet will be the primary tool for officers when carrying out their duties. As well as being able to use the touchscreen and stylus to enter information directly onto the device, the officers also have access to USB keyboards if they need to type extensive reports and a docking cradle to use the devices with a screen when at their desks – reducing the need for desktop PCs at police stations.

After a series of pilot tests with different teams from the force, Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 tablets were issued to 318 uniformed police officers.

“We needed a device that was fit for purpose for 300-plus officers, so it needed to be rugged, waterproof and easy to use in daylight conditions,” explained Sergeant Scott McDevitt, from the mobile working project at City of London Police.

“We wanted the police officers to effectively have access to their desktop when working operationally, so a Microsoft Windows operating system was also important.”

The tablet provides real-time access over 4G mobile connection to the force’s primary policing software from Airwave, with the ‘Pronto’ electronic notebook application enabling officers to access information wherever they are, so that they can provide a better service to the public.

It also allows them electronically capture, reuse, manage and submit information from the field, ensuring that high-quality information is captured at the front line and saving time previously spent on paper forms.

“We have already seen multiple benefits from the rollout,” said Sgt McDevitt. “Officers do not have to return to the station so much, so they can spend more time in the community. In addition, it has removed a lot of duplication of effort. Previously, officers would make notes at the scene and then return to the office to key the information into the system.

“We have also reduced the number of paper forms we use, for issuing tickets for example. This can now be completed electronically using the tablet. Over time we will continue to increase the number of processes that can be carried out on the device, further increasing the savings and productivity.”

He added: “As with any new technology rollout, the cultural change can always be a challenge.

“However, having said that, I have had officers with more than 20 years’ experience ask why didn’t we have something like this sooner – after just five weeks of using the device.”

City of London Police Commissioner Ian Dyson believes the introduction of the tablets has been positive for both his force and the City as a whole.

“Modern life is increasingly about the ability of services to work with a public who use technology to go about their business,” he said.

“The public should expect the police to be no different, and to use technology to provide a more efficient, responsive and timely service to tackle crime and protect them. The Toughpad tablets are one step on our journey to be a modern responsive police service.”

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