2012 in Review: Top trends in police technology
Instead of discussing specific products, I think it’s more appropriate to list major categories of technology
My instant response to the assignment to write about the top technology developments of 2012 was to identify the most innovative gadgets and products that debuted this year. Experience has taught me that some products, no matter how well-conceived, never make it to market (witness the purpose-built cop car from Carbon Motors).
Instead of discussing specific products, I think it’s more appropriate to list major categories of technology that may have been around for a while, but were recognized and embraced this year as viable and an important addition to the gear locker.
So, in no particular order:
Most of the bodycams on the market cost no more than $1000 per copy, and there aren’t any consumables to worry about other than a new battery every year or so. Even better, they go where the cop goes and see what he sees. Facial expressions and action that used to take place outside the dashcam frame is now recorded and preserved for evidence, and there are almost no moving parts to break.
These will eventually become as commonplace a part of an officer’s kit as his baton or flashlight.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
Instead, UAVs are used for surveillance to put eyes in the sky when such a vantage point wouldn’t be possible. Traditional aviation units are great assets, but they’re very costly.
A small quadricopter operable within line of sight can be had for a few thousand dollars, and a small airborne platform with an operational range similar to a conventional light helicopter will cost less than the manned version, and won’t require as much maintenance or as much training to fly.
The biggest barrier to widespread deployment is the refinement of FAA regulations for UAV flight over domestic soil, and that won’t be long coming.
Cloud technology, placing much of the data and some of the software off-platform, have made it possible for these devices to perform most of the same tasks as conventional computers, and it doesn’t hurt that most of them incorporate cameras and cellular network radios that allow them to work almost anywhere. Their batteries will endure for most of a duty shift.
They’re also cost-effective, with the low-end models available for less than $200. The laptop isn’t dead, but there are good reasons to consider another form factor for your next purchase.
More than a few careers have come to an end, or never began, over ill-considered status updates. Like most powerful forces, it can do as much harm as good, but it’s not going to go away
There are “apps” for every conceivable mental and some physical tasks. This year, sSmartphones outsold conventional cell phones for the first time.
Soon, a device that functions only as a wireless telephone will be as rare as a wired version with a rotary dial.
This level of continuous and ubiquitous information sharing helps to ensure that everyone gets the word in a timely fashion, something that is often critical in law enforcement. Now, if we could just get people to talk to each other more.
Most every model of vehicle comes with an option package that automatically connects to your Smartphone and/or music player, and in some cases updates from your home or work Wi-Fi network.
GPS maps are as likely to be downloaded on the fly as carried on an internal drive or memory chip. Email, voicemails, and Facebook, and Twitter updates are read to you as you drive.
Yeah, that’s still a problem.
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