Mobile devices supplied by Vodafone to 6500 police are expected to keep officers on the front line for more of their working hours.
On the basis of hours saved in an 11-month trial of the smartphones and tablet computers and some laptops, Prime Minister John Key predicts the deployment could save each officer about 30 minutes in an eight-hour shift -- about 520,000 hours per year based on the initial rollout to 6,086 officers.
This is based largely on the capacity of the devices for instant access to police databases, so officers can check the identities of people they are talking to against file pictures and see any outstanding warrants of bail conditions that apply to them. There is at present no digital face recognition capability on the devices, Police spokeswoman Annie Coughlan says.
"Put another way, [the saving of time] is equivalent to about 345 extra frontline police being more active and visible in our communities," Key says.
The number of front-line officers equipped with the new technology will ramp up to 6500 by mid-next year. All of them will get a smartphone. Tablets will be supplied to 3,900 officers who need to do more complex data entry as part of their job, says a Police statement.
The initial cost of the rollout is $4.3 million. Over the next 12 years, Police will spend $159 million in operating expenditure to fund the initiative.
Applications on the devices include eQuip, which gives access to the Police National Intelligence Application. This allows officers to submit and manage queries for people, vehicles and locations. The accessible information includes a photograph of the suspect, if available and details such as links to other offenders, charges or warnings, bail and driver licence details.
This application saves the officer time, compared to making an inquiry by radio or returning to the police station.
A Mobile Responder application provides maps showing the officers their current location, and that of their colleagues, and enables them to view and update events assigned by communications centres.
Standard office-type applications such as mail and calendar are also provided.
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