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The Glastonbury Police Department patrols 54 square miles—the largest municipality in the state of Connecticut. The GPD’s fleet of 17 marked patrol cars has deployed an extremely progressive mobile computing solution, which has brought national attention to the department.
The benefits of new technology have transformed patrol cars across the country; a vehicle-mounted computing device with wireless capability means officers have real-time access to information, database files and GPS mapping systems. However, this capability does not come without drawbacks. Two of the most frequently cited complaints are space issues in the cab as more and more hardware is installed and the need to look down to type and access the computer system. Furthermore, departments are constrained by cost, space limits, power and existing infrastructure. The overall objectives for the department are officer safety and to improve environment and efficiency while watching the cost.
Officer Robin Timmer of the Glastonbury Police Department described the older system installed in the patrol cars. “You couldn’t move around the car, keys flew off the keyboard, when an officer turned in his seat, he would knock a USB loose. Once an officer accidentally spilled milk on the laptop and fried the system! We had to explain that our computers are lactose intolerant.” The current system simply was not built for in-vehicle use and posed a threat to officer safety.
When considering a new mobile solution, the Glastonbury PD placed a high importance on human factors and ergonomics.
“There’s more stuff, more radios, more hardware, and a lot of it is mounted directly in front of the airbag,” Timmer explained. “Over the past several years, we’ve seen violent offenses against police decline, but what we’ve seen is a 30 to 35% increase in the amount of injuries to an officer in a police cruiser. Even though it says right on it, ‘Do not mount in front of airbag,’ they are.”
The Glastonbury Police performed their due diligence in researching a mobile computing solution. They wanted a system that would meet their needs for ruggedness, interior ergonomics and officer safety as well as offer best in class computing technology. Space considerations led to the three-point solution: the ITRONIX vehicle rugged GoBook® VR-1 trunk mounted, cabled to a TG-3 backlit, spill-resistant keyboard and Bright Planar LX1200 touch screen display in the front of the patrol car on ergonomic Havis-Shields Stout Mounts.
The Glastonbury Police took their mobile solution one step further: they installed the 54WARD Integrated Solution system developed by 54WARD. The 54WARD™ COREcommand provides a single operational platform that allows multiple levels of operation such as voice command, touch screen control and traditional methods of operation. Devices and software supported include: emergency lights and sirens, radio and communications, radar, video, GPS/AVL, printers, computer-aided dispatch (CAD), NCIC and motor vehicle query, and much more. 54Ward can customize to any agencies’ specific needs with the ability of the COREcommand to interface with most popular devices and third-party software offered today while retaining a redundant system of mission critical devices. The backbone of 54WARD COREcommand is the engineered system of hardware and electronics that isolates and protects the vehicle and its devices from common failures in the field. This system uses software originally developed by the University of New Hampshire.
The patrol cruisers of the Glastonbury PD are the cars of the future. They offer a high level of officer and citizen safety. n
Photos courtesy of Itronix.
Published in Tactical Response, Nov/Dec 2006
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