June 25, 2018

Rearchitecting the Patrol Car Experience

Dave Kelly

Topic:   Industry Focus

Last updated: November 25th, 2020

The arrival of private and preemptive public safety cellular core networks and advancements in affordable managed government cloud hosting solutions will be a game changer for public safety, paving the way for technology solutions that would have been cost prohibitive in the past.

For years law enforcement has envisioned the patrol car as the “mobile office” but innovations in hardware solutions like in-car cameras and body-worn cameras outpaced innovations in network infrastructure which led to solutions that were both cost prohibitive and required significant man-power to manage, frustrating the entire chain of command. The combination of private and preemptive public-safety core networks and affordable CJIS compliant government cloud hosting solutions seem poised to solve the bandwidth, connectivity, security, storage, and cost issues that have prevented law enforcement from taking the proverbial next step in patrol car technology. This rapid change leads to exciting opportunities for public safety.

Automatic Offloading of Video Directly to the Cloud

Current video systems either require the officer to manage an external storage device, taking it out of the patrol car and transferring it to a server or they require complex networks at the police station that offload the video when the patrol car gets within range. The former solution is not only inefficient as it takes patrol officers off the street but it also carries the risk of lost or damaged video. The later solution is expensive to implement and puts significant strain on the network bandwidth at the police station. Both solutions become a storage nightmare for police agencies trying to maintain the video on premises for evidentiary and Freedom of Information Act purposes. Preemptive public safety core networks offer unlimited data plans with no throttling allowing for video to trickle up to the cloud while the officer is on patrol. With current LTE speeds, video from the officer’s entire twelve-hour shift can be offloaded by the time she calls herself out of service and the government cloud hosting services can store and manage the video for a literal fraction of the cost.

Live Streaming Critical Incidents

With current systems, command officers can only view critical incidents after the fact and patrol supervisors are often required to make decisions based on what they are hearing over the radio. When 5G arrives, it will be possible to see pursuits and other critical incidents live as they are happening by streaming the video from the connected devices (in-car cameras and body-worn cameras) over the in-car network to be viewed remotely. This will allow supervisors to make more informed and timely decisions.

Moving to Web-Based Software Solutions

Much of the legacy law enforcement software was built to be installed on a mobile data computer. Over the years, law enforcement has required more from these software programs which in turn necessitated hardware upgrades adding significant cost to the in-car computers. Agencies that cannot afford to upgrade the computers now have frustrated officers dealing with a software/hardware combination that makes them feel as if they are working on a Commodore 64 with a dial-up connection. This also frustrates IT staff who must build custom software packages that often break when an operating system update or security patch is pushed to the patrol car. Security enhancements on cellular networks and in cloud architecture now allow for law enforcement software solutions to be web-based, taking the strain off the hardware and thereby reducing the costs, increasing the productivity of police officers, and reducing the down time of mobile data computers.

The advent of the government cloud, the arrival of preemptive public safety core networks, and the anticipated arrival of 5G are a recipe for efficiency, increased productivity, and affordability for law enforcement.