NSW Police to test car tech refit

Tech boss Gordon Dunsford says the concept car is possibly a world-first

A police car displays 'PROCEED' on an LED message board [law enforcement/authority/Australia]
Adam Dodd / Getty Images

NSW Police’s technology team has built a prototype connected car for frontline officers that connects the law enforcement agency’s internal policing systems to the vehicle’s CAN bus, in what could be a world-first.

Police’s digital technology and innovation (DTI) group worked with fleet services and strategic procurement to access the car manufacturer’s native computing capabilities. CAN bus is a vehicle bus standard that allows microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each others’ applications without a host computer.

Gordon Dunsford, chief information and technology officer at NSW Police, told CIO Australia that the cost of running technology inside the car has been an issue but, more importantly, officers wanted a more ‘consumer-like’ and safer experience in their vehicles.

“It [the concept] replaces a host of ‘bolt-on’ technologies like mobile data terminals (toughbooks) that allow access like a PC bolted into a police vehicle to police systems such as computer aided dispatch, in-car video, advanced number recognition, access to body worn video, and MobiPOL capabilities,” Dunsford said.

NSW Police’s technology team connected a MobiPol device to the car’s infotainment screen. MobiPol allows frontline police who are using a Samsung Android smartphone to search for people, vehicles and places to warnings (firearms, known behaviours etc). It also helps officers issue infringement notices for traffic offences, take details of incidents by taking photos and short videos.

“We still need to determine how this will impact on operational requirements and officer safety but the team sees this as one goal over the post. We’ve engaged a ‘human factors expert’ who has worked with Airbus to ensure everything we do is human-centered in its design and setup but we’re pretty sure this innovation is going to remove a bunch of risks and cost,” Dunsford said.

“This type of game-changing technology doesn’t happen overnight. There will be a lot of planning and testing with the help of several commands. But by identifying what is possible now, we have begun the complex process of delivering tomorrow much sooner,” he added.

NSW Police will run field trials in mid-2020 with a few vehicles that are deployed for general duties.

“We will likely run a trial and take feedback for six to 12 months,” he said.

“As part of our Broader Connected Officer program, we hope to see this platform rolled out across the entire fleet. The size of the fleet is about 3000 to 4000 vehicles and the rollout will take some time depending on vehicle turnover,” he said.

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