The London riots have been a case study in modern communications technology, with rioters using Twitter and text messages while police have used encrypted radio transmissions and the city’s vast network of closed circuit TV cameras, reports the Guardian. The police command center is a special operations room in Lambeth, where senior officers view screens showing footage from helicopter cameras and keep track of police movements by radio.
The police radio system is provided by Airwave technology, a secure network used between the emergency services. While previous radio systems could easily be listened into – meaning that dispatchers sometimes decided that information could not be passed over the radio – the Airwave service is encrypted and cannot be scanned, according to the company. Officers use Airwave via their personal radios. The police have been using Twitter, but they have been criticized for being slow to fully exploit its potential. Steve Kavanagh, deputy assistant police commissioner, told the BBC, “We need to adapt and learn from what we are experiencing.”