Data terminals for all Met vehicles

All of the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) 1,500 vehicles have now been equipped with Mobile Data Terminal (MDT) technology which the force has described as a key technological advance for the MPS, and part of its provision of 21st Century policing.

Apr 6, 2006
By David Howell

All of the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) 1,500 vehicles have now been equipped with Mobile Data Terminal (MDT) technology which the force has described as a key technological advance for the MPS, and part of its provision of 21st Century policing.

Mobile patrol officers now have live access to information that was only previously available through the control rooms or back at the station; making additional information available for officers and the control room should improve officer safety and makes resource management more effective.

Through the MDT system, control room staff have access to precise response vehicle location, which provides improved information on the availability of patrol officers ensuring that the right unit is deployed to the right place at the right time.

Officers now have direct remote access in their response vehicles to the Police National Computer (PNC), Computer Aided Despatch (CAD) messages, in-car mapping, Quick Address for address checks and a text messaging service and patrol supervisory functions giving supervisors additional capacity to manage their response resources. Access to these services has freed up radio airtime and released latent demand, especially for PNC. Data transmitted by MDT is fully encrypted to provide extra security for MPS information.

“The new service is benefiting the people of London and police officers alike,” says Commander Bob Broadhurst (Patrol). “These new in-car computers are another step in delivering 21st Century policing by ensuring we can assign the most appropriate police officers to an incident and that they are primed with the necessary information to manage and resolve situations. MDTs allow us to focus on delivering the best service to our citizens by using our resources more effectively to make London a safer city.”

Motivated by operational needs to provide access to real-time information to officers, the MPS MDT project was initiated in 1999. Initially researching other police forces systems, the MPS visited Sussex Police to discuss the MDT project they were implementing.

MDT system trials took place at four of the force’s Operational Command Units in 2000. Feedback from trial users and other forums were used to develop the service and highlighted changes that, for operational reasons, needed to be made to the specifications – with changes made to data presentation, functionality and the provision of in-car keyboards.

Shaun O’Neill, MPS MDT Business Change Manager and Senior Sponsor said: “Through a robust evaluation framework, and ongoing user feedback sought and acted upon throughout the introduction of the system, we have produced an MDT system that meets not only the business needs but the user needs. As with the implementation of any IT project that involves process business change, there has been a period of time while users get used to the system before potential benefits have been realised.

“As officers have seen how the system can help them, we have started to see these benefits realised, with officers becoming innovative with their use of it. We have clearly released a latent demand for the systems offered on MDT, and are seeing increasing effectiveness in the way we work and improved officer safety. This is not just about officers being able to make faster checks on CAD and PNC; this is meeting a demand we knew was there, but can now be fulfilled through the use of mobile data technology.”

David Lawford, Director of Public Safety at APD Communications added: “We are very pleased that our mobile data solutions are in daily operational use in more than 1,500 Metropolitan Police front line vehicles, and are bringing significant benefits to the force and to officers. The APD applications give officers greater independence through not having to rely so heavily on voice communications, and making better-informed decisions based on real-time critical information. We are very proud to support officers in London with technology that brings

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