Connected police officers for a smart city that is safe
The central link of security operations, police officers will be the primary recipients of these new solutions, which will seek to increase the connectivity of law enforcement agencies. For although these agencies already seem to have made use of a diverse network of high-performing tools (radios, computer terminals, etc.), they have only begun to connect all of the means of maintaining security. For the moment, the vast majority of police forces still operate using systems of communication that function on TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) standards that are essentially geared for voice and text transmission. They still do not have access to high-speed links. Yet the connected police officer of tomorrow will need such an asset to exchange photos and videos. This is Thales’ goal.
The group has already shown the substantial advantages that are offered by the availability of a video monitoring system that can cover an entire urban area. As part of the Ciudad Segura project, Thales deployed more than 14,000 video surveillance cameras in Mexico City. From the time these tools were installed, emergency response times, in the case, for example, of an unwell person, were divided by six, going from twelve minutes to two. Saving time here is a question of saving lives. This is only a beginning. The connectivity system that will allow police officers to be truly connected has yet to be deployed. But the lion’s share of the work is already done, since most large cities are already equipped with high-speed communications networks. A network of extremely dense and high-performing communication channels indeed exists, with more than 1.3 billion 4G users worldwide, a figure growing exponentially, and the interconnection of objects via the internet (Web 3.0). Nevertheless, police forces are not yet able to connect to these channels at will. It is essential that they be able to do so. Civil networks, however, are not designed for such critical use. If an attack or serious accident were to take place today, first responders would be faced with a network overloaded with calls if they tried to use it. It is thus necessary to create functionalities that enable them to take control of the network. This is what Thales proposes with LTE, a 4G standard that will make it possible for police officers and emergency services to connect in any circumstance to the local network in order to make use of all of its potential.
This is similar, to a certain extent, with what happens today in the most modern armies, where people and devices cooperate closely on a digital battlefield. Thanks to this system, law enforcement agencies will thus be able to work in synergy and in real time. They will be able to make group calls, connect to their command centre and send photos and video live by means of new application software functionalities. The operational benefits that are possible will be immense.
The use of LTE will permit all equipped organisations (police, firefighters, paramedics, hospitals, etc.) to communicate in real time on a shared network in a multilateral framework, enabling an optimised understanding of a crisis situation. Information sharing will be much more effective via real-time transmission of images. These images will take the place of voice or text exchanges between those deployed on the ground and command centres, which will make it possible for decision makers to see events unfolding in real time. This will enable a substantial reduction of what in military terms is called the OODA loop. Body cameras enabling law enforcement officers to transmit what they see live will reinforce the discretion of those deployed, as they will no longer need to resort to their radios to give a report. The use of body cameras transmitting what is happening in a given area live will also enable the gathering and legal validation of evidence, with visuals being authenticated by means of geolocation and timestamps.
LTE will also permit increased efficiency in the framework of traditional missions, such as identity checks and traffic stops. If police officers can connect to the city’s infrastructure (video surveillance cameras, etc.), databases will allow them to gather information remotely, in order to validate, for example, the identity of a suspect, making the procedure much quicker and the risks of error much lower. If law enforcement agencies connect to all of the networks of a smart city, it will be possible to provide greater security to this city, people and infrastructure, all while simultaneously strengthening the security conditions of police officers.