Aug 2, 2012

Don’t Wait for LTE to Start with Broadband in Police Vehicles!

The recent discussion in Public Safety new services has evolved around the new possibilities that LTE networks will provide. Simultaneously we are seeing some setbacks due to technical challenges, legislative issues and pure lack of money in the deployment of Public Safety LTE around the world. Still in many places even a narrowband data connection to the vehicle is just a dream. Even the more advanced countries are using the extremely limited data capacities of TETRA where even simple services like just sending an email with a larger attachment are not possible.

The whole discussion has been evolving too much around the technology. It is wonderful to think about live video from anywhere in the field to be sent to all participating units, but before that there is a lot we can do with today’s technology. And this can be done much cheaper than by implementing commercially supported LTE’s or dedicated Public Safety LTE networks. The overruling principle of taking broadband effectively in use in vehicle solutions are the services one can deliver to the vehicle. Let’s just forget the LTE for a while and think about the services we could start to use today.

First, a broadband connection can better be used for real time delivery of location information. TETRA based systems, due to their capacity limitations, often limit the viewed situational awareness area to just a few kilometers. With broadband one can see easily over 50 km radius of the other units’ status and can easily call the best possible support for a task when needed.

Second solution, that needs always online capability, is the license plate recognition system. If the database of stolen cars is updated only once a day, the vehicles are outside of the country before they can be caught. As an example, the Honda of the Director of Finnish Customs was stolen some time ago. Thanks to his direct international connections, the vehicle was located the same day in Estonia. With online recognition software there would have been a possibility to spot the vehicle within Finnish borders.

Third, all the documentation and databases that currently are only available in the precinct of office location can be brought to vehicle. With session persistent connection and encrypted tunneling over any used networks, the officers can avoid the boring paper work and actually gather all relevant information from criminal records and similar databases in the vehicle. Similarly the documentation needed can be printed on the spot and given to the customers. This helps to avoid unnecessary visits to office sites not only for the officers, but also for the customers.

Finally, modern PDA equipment can be used outside the vehicle and data like bar code from driver’s license can be read immediately. With this data the records of the individuals in question can be gathered and the status of the customer can be checked.

All of these services do not require LTE networks. The most economical solution is to use simultaneously several commercially available networks. This can be done, and is done, today by using multichannel routing systems like Goodmill Systems’ w24e. The savings of the system in working hours have been estimated to be even two hours per shift. This result in payback times of less than two months for the needed router equipment.

Juhani Lehtonen