Mobile interactive mapping

A new mobile application could be the answer to dealing with crimes and officer allocation more effectively thanks to a deal which will see BlackBerry smartphone users gain easy and updated access to vital information while attending emergency calls.

Oct 21, 2010
By Dilwar Hussain

A new mobile application could be the answer to dealing with crimes and officer allocation more effectively thanks to a deal which will see BlackBerry smartphone users gain easy and updated access to vital information while attending emergency calls.

ESRI UK is to begin rolling out an innovative mobile application that will allow police forces and other emergency services already using BlackBerry smartphones to open live dynamic maps, data collection and location services to their staff.

The Freeance Mobile software from TDC Group, specialists in cost-saving mobile location solutions, is expected to provide the first secure means of delivering map-based intelligence and briefing information to frontline officers on the streets.

Simon Cottingham, public safety strategist at official distributors ESRI UK, said: “There is starting to emerge a strategy of working with fewer officers: where we can put them and how we can work with them? How do we make sure the job is getting done?

“The basic concept behind the software is trying to deliver updated information to police officers on the front line. We care less about what the background maps are and focus on what the police officers want.

“The phones are connected to a data warehouse – and usually the data warehouse is updated every 24-hours.

“In terms of public confidence, everything is updated and the police can turn up and be properly briefed and the public will have more confidence [in them].”

Freeance Mobile software allows any organisation running ESRI’s flagship ArcGIS Server software to publish their maps live to an unlimited number of BlackBerry smartphones.

The system also presents an opportunity for public safety organisations to realise efficiency savings and delivering more for less from their IT investment.

ESRI says this can be achieved in a number of ways, including officers being able to obtain information without having to return to the station to access or record collected information manually.

“Police officers can check exactly what is going on and will know exactly what is happening. That’s why we hope the police will be very excited by this – and it is secure.

“We rely on the BlackBerry security and do not rely on other networks’ security. We have signed a re-seller agreement with the group to sell in the UK and the police are our most exciting area.

“The information that police officers hold goes back to the control room. Controllers can easily tell where officers need assistance; and now they can see easily who is available – and I think there is value for money [in this].

“We are going to try to find a UK force to carry out a pilot scheme and prove it in a real situation,” added Mr Cottingham.

Freeance also delivers the means to remotely collect location-specific information, such as road traffic accident details, or to view emergency response data, such as flooding extents, or gain a quick understanding of crime patterns in a specific area.

The system is simple for IT departments to administer, according to Mr Cottingham, and is just as easy for officers to use.

A varied range of information can easily be identified, including:
•Calculating demand for services;
•Using historic data;
•Modelling likely future demands;
•Comparison with resource availability;
•Ensuring adequate supply of resources at the right time and location;
•Response resource type request;
•Analysis by time;
•Analysis by crime;
•Combine historic demand and predicted demand; and
•Compare with resource availability.

Richard Waite, managing director of ESRI UK, said: “We are pleased to announce that ESRI UK is becoming the official distributor of Freeance Mobile Software in the UK.

“With the UK having an ever-increasing mobile workforce, we are committed to providing software which is in-line with technological advancements and the demands of our customers. This will further fulfil our mission to make geographic information systems

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