The Future Of Policing Technology
Developments in digital technology have the potential to impact law enforcement as profoundly as those they protect. Where citizens benefit from the connections technology facilitates in their personal and work life, law enforcement will see dramatic improvements to their day-to-day operations.
Over the past decade, agencies are increasingly supporting their mission with innovative new public safety technologies like body cameras, drones and License Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras. The improved situational awareness and heightened protection these police technologies deliver transform the safety of both officers and their communities, marking a shift in the future of policing operations.
Common Problems Faced by Police Today
While new tools and technology have the potential to improve law enforcement workflow, many factors influence whether a new software or solution will actually enhance efficiency as intended. Often, manufacturers introduce tools that aren’t designed to 'speak' to each other, resulting in an incompatibility that impedes operations and causes information to be siloed. This incompatibility is one of the most common problems law enforcement agencies face today. When data is siloed crucial insights can’t be shared immediately, whether internally or across agencies. The result is that a new technology intended to support workflow synergies actually erodes performance and can ultimately increase agency costs. Primarily, when forces rely on multiple disparate systems to complete a task, it impacts response time, jeopardizing community safety.
Forces that continue to use two-way radios exclusively are also exposing themselves to risks. Large buildings — especially those made of concrete, brick, or steel — can often block radio signals, making communication either sporadic or non-existent. These radio communication ‘dead zones’ can be more common in public buildings like hospitals and schools - where reliable connections are most necessary.
For public safety officials, inconsistent connections can mean they’re delayed in reaching an incident, and without vital, up-to-date information from dispatch, law enforcement can arrive unprepared. This leaves them unaware of the location of both victims and backup resources, and in the case of a large-scale incident or disaster, the impact of this poor communication can be catastrophic.
Further exacerbating these issues in law enforcement is the lack of funding. When an operational budget does not meet the resourcing requirements of an agency, the consequences can be profound, and impact the agency’s tools, technology, vehicles - and even personnel.
The Future of Policing Technology
Technology is primed to offer long-term solutions to the problems that impact policing, especially in the area of advanced integration. Systems, applications, software and devices will all be able to connect seamlessly in one integrated ecosystem. Powered by AI, this police technology can digitize daily tasks - such as removing the need to process handwritten tickets - and connect siloed streams of information to create one cohesive chain of custody. It will enable dispatch to communicate more effectively with those out in the field, providing relevant up-to-the-minute information, so the officer arrives informed and is better protected. This data can be collated and reviewed to uncover actionable insights for both reporting and further investigations. With a more systematic approach to data handling and sharing, personnel are empowered, and have more time to dedicate to protecting their communities, not completing paperwork.
A future-proof investment, each of these advanced technologies will work in sync with new and existing applications to create a unified entity more powerful than one single solution.
Police radio technology
Another advancement in law enforcement technologies that will significantly impact officers’ day-to-day operations is the improvements to police radios.
Police radios are an officer’s lifeline; as incremental advances in radio technology drive efficiency and ease of field communications, both law enforcement personnel and the communities they serve will benefit from enhanced officer awareness. The real payoff is better outcomes.
New digital radio technology will see devices that combine broadband Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Wi-Fi with Land Mobile Radio (LMR) radio to eliminate dead zones, enable local and nationwide connectivity and provide exceptional quality of service.
Accurate location capabilities
GPS location services allow dispatch to see real-time location data for all officers in the field, as well as help them to find individuals and vehicles of interest.
Time-saving smart features
Radio management is a time-consuming task. For many agencies, in order to maintain reliable devices, they need to return their radios to base, plug them in and manually update them one-by-one. Today, radios can be maintained and managed remotely, without interrupting operations. Over-the-air updates are pushed remotely, without interruption to service and without pulling resources out of the field. This improves productivity and streamlines expensive and time-consuming radio management tasks. It can also extend the lifespan of the fleet.
Improving accessibility and making devices more efficient, a touchscreen offers a flexible interface that means several applications can be navigated simultaneously. The touchscreen even works with gloves on or with water on the device, to ensure connectivity in most weather conditions.
Voice control options
When every moment matters, officers don’t want to be distracted by having to remove their gloves to operate their radio, and in some cases, the risks involved would prevent them from doing so. New police technology allows radios to be voice-controlled, so radio tasks can be executed with minimal officer input.
Reimagining the standard for usability and performance, smart radios such as the APX N-Line of products signal significant changes for technology and law enforcement. Leveraging future-ready innovation which evolves as new applications and features enter the market, smart radios are a valuable investment. With voice-activated information searches for eyes-up awareness, cloud-based programming platforms to get radios operation-ready in advance, and toughened touchscreens that are accessible even with gloves, the latest portable digital radios like the APX NEXT allow law enforcement to experience an intuitive, smarter way of working.
Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR)
Customizable to the needs of your team, ALPR has evolved to offer much more than just capturing license plate information and triggering basic alerts. License plate recognition software ensures there are eyes on the scene, even when your officers aren’t. Leveraging advanced cameras, ALPR scans vehicles at high speeds, in busy environments and poor light conditions. Innovative backend software incorporates lead-generating intelligence that helps close cases. The result is increased awareness and productivity for officers and improved efficiency for investigations. Furthermore, ALPR functions as a safeguard between officers and a potentially dangerous situation, by alerting them to individuals in vehicles they should be cautious of - detailing hot-listed vehicles and warrants - before they approach them.
Drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are operated remotely via a secure internet connection in real-time. They’re increasingly being used to support a fast response, as well as in crime scene work, search and rescue efforts, and accident reconstruction. Capturing evidence-grade images across vast spaces in a short amount of time, drones help accurate decisions to be made faster.
Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs)
A BWC program can be instrumental in protecting your agency and providing transparency for your community. BWCs equip officers with the means to capture interactions in real-time, offering an objective, unbiased witness, and often deterring unwanted behavior by their presence alone. With a range of features, including the ability to automatically trigger recordings, live-stream and upload evidence from anywhere via WI-FI and flexible ‘as-a-service’ payment plans, a BWC program can be easily customized to the needs of your team and your vicinity.
Despite some states recognizing the advantages of BWCs and making them mandatory, some decision-makers are resistant to law enforcement technology advancements. A reluctance to leverage BWCs means forces aren’t benefiting from the heightened situational awareness and protection they afford.
Computer-Aided Dispatch Software
In order to arm first responders with a clear picture of an incident, dispatchers need to ensure they relay critical information to them in the first moments of an incident. Advanced dispatch software allows dispatchers to create talk groups, view camera feeds, track responding officer locations, and share updates and data with responding units from a single view. The result is dispatchers can coordinate a quicker response, maximize interoperability between agencies, systems and databases, and maximize officer awareness and citizen safety.
Looking to the future…
With key technology benefits specific to the mission of law enforcement agencies – from the evidence-grade images captured by drones and BWCs to ALPR technology warning of threats before they materialize, an integrated ecosystem will prove to be a sustainable and valuable investment for police agencies. And with flexible implementation strategies, agencies can customize technology and tools according to priorities and budgets.
The complete P25 solution
Site equipment, transport and integration. From a small conventional system to a statewide trunked network.
When lives depend on you, you need a mission-critical communications device in your hand.
Empower your dispatchers to coordinate faster. Choose from our portfolio of consoles and keep your teams safe.
Add intelligence to your system. From tracking to keep personnel safe, to encryption to keep radios secure.
Managed & support services
Maintain mission-critical performance. From light-touch support to full network management.