Around 1,500 police officers in Cumbria are being equipped with Samsung Galaxy Note 4 devices running on EE’s 4G network as part of an effort to modernise the use of technology in the rural community.
The rollout is part of a £1.8m mobile and digital working initiative at Cumbria Constabulary, which it estimates will save £3.3m in three years by reducing admin and helping officers stay on the beat for longer.
The devices will come loaded with special policing apps and services so that officers are able to do more of their job on the go, rather than having to return to the station.
Chief superintendent Steve Johnson explained that the force choose EE as it had the coverage and data capacity needed to justify the investment in mobile devices for officers on the beat.
“Cumbria Constabulary polices one of the largest geographical areas in England and Wales, which covers difficult terrain,” he said.
“As a result, call and data coverage and communication quality are important factors in mobilising the workforce in order to increase the amount of time officers are able to spend in the community, keeping people safe and dealing with crime.”
EE has done a lot of work providing 4G coverage in Cumbria, using it as a test bed for its 4G services to prove that the technology is an adequate replacement for fixed broadband services.
Despite this, the government has seemed uninterested in considering 4G as a way to provide internet access in the remotest parts of the UK, instead focusing more on fixed broadband, wireless and satellite services.
Cumbria's decision to move to tablets for its officers follows a similar initiative at the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in London, which will see almost 20,000 tablets provided to officers.
Some 500 officers with three Met divisions - Hammersmith and Fulham, Child Protection and the Aviation Security Operational Command Unit (SO18) - have been using iPad Minis during a trial of tablets, which looks set to be expanded across the capital.
Adrian Hutchinson, mobile technology lead at the Met, told V3 earlier this year that the iPads have proved hugely successful and have improved many aspects of the job.
“We are a modern crime fighting machine, but our officers still have to make hand-written statements and then type them up back at the office. This doesn’t give the image of an overly efficient system,” he said.
“With the iPads, officers can take statements electronically, embed images, get people to sign with a fingerprint and load all this into the system on the scene instantly.”
The MPS has signed a deal with Vodafone to provide 4G services for this initiative.
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