Why Your Police Force Should Adopt Mobile

Learn how to empower your officers with access to information using mobile technologies like smartphones, tablets and mobile apps

The following is paid content sponsored by SceneDoc.

Most police agencies recognize the benefits of mobile solutions and aim to incorporate devices like smartphones, tablets and mobile apps more fully into their workflow practices. But because of law enforcement’s unique needs—including reliability and security on the cloud—some agencies still have not adopted a mobile mindset.

There are so many benefits to law enforcement agencies that go mobile, from seamless documentation to going paperless between those in the field and police administrators. Here are three important reasons why your agency should adopt a mobile mindset today.

1. Getting more info to officers in the field

These days, almost every officer and administrator carries a personal cell phone and most keep them hooked to their belts or in a shirt pocket. So it is important that agencies leverage this technology and send information to cops in a way they can receive it instantly — on their mobile devices.

Using mobile devices like tablets and smartphones combined with intuitive apps designed for law enforcement, officers can get information and instructions from headquarters or affiliated agencies anytime, anywhere. These LE apps can give cops access to important documents, such as digital evidence management forms, instantly.

Using apps, cops can access written incident documentation, record interviews, capture photos, and make notations using a stylus on their mobile phone or tablet. The data is collected immediately on the device and transmitted in near real-time to a secure server so it can be accessed by administration.

Seamless integration of mobile communication technology and LE investigative evidence forms found in apps means a fundamental gain in efficiency compared to the legacy process of filing information back at the station at the end of an officer’s shift.

These are substantial efficiency gains compared to procedures used in years past, when all dispatching and reporting from the field depended on radio technologies, said Ryan Seick, vice president of SceneDoc, an app that lets officers capture real-time investigative data.

“Having access to mobile devices and mobile data gives officers easy-to-use, interactive templates for documenting crimes or incidents while standardized tools reduce errors and eliminate legibility problems with handwritten information,” Seick added.

In addition, streamlined workflow and easier access to information significantly reduces turnaround time for final investigative reports, he said.

2. Increasing productivity in the field

Adopting a smartphone, tablet and software platform to improve productivity is a strategic decision that impacts not only officer productivity, but agency efficiency and public safety.

According to a 2014 public safety study, “Public safety agencies recognize that using technology to collect and to analyze the right information in real time is critical in delivering the collective intelligence needed to help them serve the public more effectively.”

The real-time feature of mobile police apps yields a range of new capabilities for agencies, according to the consulting firm Accenture. The capabilities go beyond real-time communications to include real-time management capabilities and collaboration, evidence capture, analytics and intelligence between those in the field and command officers.

The right software will support productivity in other ways, too, including information sharing and collaboration among personnel who use different types of devices, Seick said.

“Software applications should work across platforms and operating systems and have the capability to exchange information with other internal or external users,” he added.

Accenture emphasized that these types of apps improve officer performance by offering intelligence while they are out on patrol, on an investigation or in a pursuit.

Real-time data can put an officer in control of a situation, including access to data on the suspect and any updates instantly.

Best of all, it untethers officers from their squad cars as information is being sent to a device that can use commercial networks to send wireless updates to handheld devices—whether that is an inspector working on a tablet or an officer filling an accident report on the spot.

3. Going paperless

Once an agency adopts a mobile mindset, they can also embrace an unexpected benefit: going paperless.

Before mobile tech, a precinct’s records division would take a police report and then would process, photocopy and send documents to the parties involved in the case—a process that employed couriers to transport mail bins full of case files to multiple departments.

What often results is a tangled web of information, an inefficient reporting process and slowed response times.

mobile mindset puts all of that documentation online, thus keeping officers in the field longer and command better informed without requiring them to intermittently return to the station. Going mobile means all forms are digitized into a user-friendly mobile interface that allows officers to complete electronic paperwork, create scene drawings, add video/audio files and take text or voice-recorded notes—right on their device.

The data then streams to a secure cloud server for storage, retrieval, collaboration with colleagues and can be turned into a secure field-based report.

By embracing a mobility philosophy, a police agency will be taking the essential first steps to becoming a high-performing, 21st century service in its community. Is your agency ready to change its mindset and adapt today?

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