As our world becomes increasingly connected, mobile technologies are a lifeline for public safety agencies, especially law enforcement.
Integrated mobile technologies give officers greater access to information wherever they are and increases their interaction with the control center. This enables officers to respond faster and more efficiently to distress calls and provides increased situational awareness during events. These mobile, yet informed, officers are often referred to as “connected officers.”
What is a connected officer?
A connected officer has complete access to information in the field and is in constant contact with dispatch while resolving events. They do this by leveraging mobile solutions that allow them to stay connected while in their vehicles or on the streets at any time.
In the past, radio was the main source of information for officers in the field. However, radio offers limited capabilities for their needs and places significant burden on dispatchers running searches and completing other tasks for the officer.
By carrying hand-held devices with 911 mobile apps, officers can access the data and record information they need, whenever they need it. This means they can spend more time doing things that really matter: working in the field, building relationships in their communities, and tackling city problems.
How connected officers help agencies
The importance of the connected officer is apparent across many departments and personnel within an agency – from the dispatch center to other officers to key stakeholders like the public. Connected officers create a huge shift in agency situational awareness, which leads to many advantages.
First, the connected officer helps dispatch be more informed in the field and reduces their workload. Second, it allows police to retrieve and update records data in real time. With this shift, officers can provide updates at a moment’s notice by entering data directly into their phone or tablet via apps.
Radio previously limited the information officers could access and relay for several reasons, including physical location restraints (e.g., officers in their patrol cars), and the congestion from using the same radio frequencies.
Now, not only can officers continually inform the control room, they can stay on top of changing situations through real-time updates in records management systems. This allows officers to pull the information they need and update records on the spot. It removes the need for officers to return to the station for updates because they can stay in the field without being left out of the loop. They can even receive automatic alerts triggered by keywords or changes to records of interest.
Additionally, when agencies make hand-held devices the primary tools of officers in the field, they can expect significant productivity gains. These are real results reported by notable public safety agencies.
New Zealand Police
An early adopter of Hexagon’s mobile solutions, New Zealand Police invested in dispatch apps that served more than 6,500 front-line officers – and it paid off in a major way.
The largest police force in the country, New Zealand Police needed a mobile solution that would put critical, real-time data into the hands of its field officers. The app had to be simple to use at the scene of any incident, and it also had to work on several different hand-held devices. After investing in Hexagon solutions, New Zealand Police extended critical computer-aided dispatch (CAD) capabilities in the field to create connected officers. The results were astounding.
The dispatch app saved New Zealand Police nearly 30 minutes per officer per shift, which equates to adding 345 more officers to the field. This is because officers could conduct the queries they needed on the spot and fill out reports on location. It also gave officers increased situational awareness and allowed them to share real-time information and request resources.
What did all of this add up to? Investing in connected officers saved the agency NZ$300 million (US$188 million) over 12 years from productivity gains. According to Viv Rickard, the agency’s deputy commissioner, they “developed a new approach, and in [his] experience over 30 years, this is the greatest change in policing.”
For more information on how Hexagon mobile solutions helped New Zealand Police create connected officers, download the full case study now.
Waylon Kenning is the product manager for handheld public safety apps within the HxGN OnCall portfolio. Based in Toronto, Canada, and originally from New Zealand, Waylon was embedded within the New Zealand Police learning real world examples of how mobility can help officers. Before Hexagon, Waylon was involved with the creation of mobile apps for one of New Zealand’s largest organizations as well as creating a mobile-focused start-up for energy companies. Outside of work, Waylon is a travel vlogger and can be found on YouTube fighting and laughing around the world with his wife, Kathryn.