IoT Blog
IoT Blog

How Connected In-Vehicle Technology is Changing Policing

The word “police” has its roots, as so many things do, in the ancient Greek language. It is derived from the term “polis,” which means “the city.” But more colloquially, the term refers to a collection of people, grouped together by common interests. And that’s what the police and law enforcement have always been: a group formed by the people for the people, with a mission of serving, protecting and maintaining peace within each community.

But while the idea of law enforcement is ancient, policing has seen many evolutions, particularly in recent years as new technologies and advancements have emerged. Law enforcement has always adapted to the times, and to available technology, whether that was the invention of the automobile or now, the rise of the high-tech, internet age. Police forces across the country are adopting always-connected technology in order to do their jobs safely and efficiently. 

Law enforcement agencies are taking advantage of improved networks, better coverage, and remarkable new technologies as they strive to enhance their force’s level of effectiveness. This improves accountability, transparency, decision-making, and performance. It’s benefiting the men and women who put their lives on the line. Technology isn’t changing the nature of policing. It’s just making it work better for everyone. 

Infographic - In-Vehicle Technologies

Technology Enabling a Fully Mobile Law Enforcement Ecosystem
What happens when police officers have everything they need in their car or on their person? What happens when they can instantly access records and reports? They are safer, less prone to error, and equipped with a greater ability to protect law-abiding residents from those on the other side of that thin blue line. These tools are made possible by networking solutions that maintain a signal no matter what. 

75-90% of Police Departments in the U.S Access Driver and Vehicle Records
It’s important for police officers to know as much as possible when making a stop or when they’re dispatched to a call for service. Having an always-connected system allows officers to access electronic vehicle records, driving records, outstanding warrants, and even info on prior calls for service. This allows authorities to properly assess a situation before engaging, thereby reducing the chances that a situation could turn dangerous.  

75% of Police Departments in the U.S. Access Criminal Reports
Whether you make an arrest or respond to a call, there’s paperwork involved. It’s a necessary and unavoidable part of the job, but it can also distract officers from what they need to do. In-car systems use electronic methods for transmitting criminal incident reports to a central database, saving time and helping avoid hassle. What’s more, officers can also access relevant reports while in the field, giving them the proper information when responding to an incident. 

68% of Police Departments in the U.S are Using Video Surveillance
State police and highway patrol cars—and increasingly, municipal police—are installing in-car cameras that can help resolve disputes in case of conflicting stories (these are in addition to body-worn cameras, addressed below). These cameras can collect evidence that might be missed in the chaos of an incident or conflict, and make sure that everyone is telling the truth. It is an invaluable tool for law enforcement and for citizen’s groups.

70% of Police Departments in the U.S. are Using License Plate Recognition Systems
Automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) is now being used to check if cars are registered, if the driver is licensed, if there are outstanding warrants, or if there’s a BOLO for a car. These cameras can instantly read a plate and run it through numerous databases, giving police another tool that the eyes alone couldn’t handle. ALPRs can send information directly to an officer in the field. This technology can be installed on police cruisers, with the ALPR system automatically checking nearby vehicles while an officer is on patrol. 

Nearly All Police Departments in the U.S. are Using Body Worn Cameras 
These are key tools for establishing trust between citizens and law enforcement. In a time of heightened tension, body-worn cameras motivate law enforcement officers and civilians alike to behave in a more civil manner. They also ensure that key details aren’t overlooked. They help police officers do their jobs and protect them from false allegations, while protecting citizens from instances of police misconduct. Police body cameras help to reduce tensions, while creating a safer, more secure community. Constant connectivity is the key to utilizing body cams to a maximum benefit. 

How Technology Transforms Policing For the Better

This technology isn’t just cool; it’s improving working conditions for law enforcement officers. It’s saving lives. And it’s promoting safer communities and more positive relationships between citizens and the law enforcement community.  How? According to the Center for Evidence Based Crime Policy, these technologies offer:

  • Increased responsiveness;
  • Faster and more accurate arrest rates;
  • Increase transparency in policing and communication;
  • Better data-based decision making;
  • More accountability; and
  • Better morale for officers.

The last point might be the most important, allowing police to improve on-the-job performance. Police officers can leverage technology in a way that augments their own experience, talents, and intuition. It allows them to make better decisions and better use of their time. This allows them to be more prepared, while increasing overall safety levels both for the officers and within the community as a whole.

It also allows them to spend more time on what really matters, whether that’s taking down dangerous criminals or improving community relations, one person at a time. Connected technology gives officers the tools they need to make smarter, safer, more productive decisions. It frees them to do an important, necessary, and difficult job. 

In our next piece, we’ll talk about how connected technology stays connected, enabling the police force to always have what they need. To elevate your technology to the next level, municipalities and law enforcement agencies can Start with Sierra to learn more about the available mobile options.