Helping the police to stay on the beat continued...
Dr Tom Jackson explains the University’s role. “We have been involved in the selection of, and modelling the acceptance of, Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs), which are connected to docking stations in the police vehicles. They enable officers to remotely access the same desktop systems they find in the police station, via ‘Citrix XenDesktop’ technology.
“As well as being able to use the MDTs on the docking stations in vehicles they can also be removed and used remotely by officers at the scene of an incident or crime and by neighbourhood officers working in local communities in public premises such as schools, church and village halls, libraries and shops. This opens up a much more flexible way to work and manages the time they spend in the community much more efficiently.”
The resulting project has now been fully rolled out across the Force, with every relevant police vehicle – from patrol cars and detective vehicles to the tactical firearm unit and armed response vehicles – featuring the new system
Once the project had begun its pilot phase with the Force in 2008, Dr Cooke and Dr Rachael Lindsay, a PhD student at the time, conducted an evaluation study in Leicester city centre.
“We undertook a rigorous, longitudinal, action research approach to the evaluation, throughout both the design process and the implementation of the project,” explains Dr Jackson. “The longitudinal study deployed a range of methods, including observational work-shadowing of users and focus groups over a nine month period, which afforded an in-depth understanding of usage.”
It has been estimated that mobile technology devices, if implemented and used correctly and to their full potential, could save the average police force £800,000 a year. With a full set-up cost ofjust £440,000 – which includes the cost of the devices, docking stations, wiring re-fits of the vehicles, airtime, IT infrastructure and accessories – it is clear to see its financial benefit to a police force at a time of cuts across the board.