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October 04, 2009
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IACP Products: Technology that fits in the palm of your hand

Imagine a fully-rugged, mobile notebook computer that's been crash-tested, sealed against water and dust, and is seamlessly roaming for uninterrupted wireless coverage. Now imagine that notebook fitting in the palm of your hand.

For officers assigned to motor patrol, mounted patrol, or for those that use other specialty vehicles like Segways, the GoBook MR-1 from General Dynamics Itronix allows for quick and easy access to software like EZ Tag (a license plate recognition system) to print tickets or conduct background checks. This week at IACP, General Dynamics Itronix was showcasing just how useful these small but tough computers can be for officers.

I spoke with Michael Leccese, Vice President of EZ Tag, about how the GoBook MR-1 integrates software for parking tickets and license plate recognition, and how officers were using the computer on duty to make their jobs easier.

"Some officers refer to these units as radios with a PC built around them because they are so well-known for their connectivity, their antanneas and their ability to pick up signals that a cell phone or other laptop simply can't do," Leccese said. In fact, these computers are so durable and cutting-edge that they were tested at the summit of Mt. Everest; one of the very first e-mails ever sent from the summit was on a GoBook MR-1.

Officers around the country are making use of the size and flexibility of the computer's uses; for example, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department sends officers equipped with the GoBook to patrol the MetroLink (subway system). Since the computer can fit in a cargo pocket and only weighs 2.4 lbs, it's not an added piece of heavy equipment for patrol. Equipping officers on motorcycles, bicycles or even cops who are walking the beat with wireless technology allows them to connect quickly with each other and dispatchers, providing a secure network to get background info on a suspect with technology that's no different than an in-car mounted laptop.

While the computer is small, its price tag is not. That's why many departments are turning to drug-seized money, grant funding, and stimulus money to fit a GoBook MR-1 purchase in their budget.  Another option is leasing - today departments are leasing technology products and spreading the cost of purchase across several months or years.

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