The rapid spread of devices and databases sharing data via high-speed 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) wireless networks is leading to a revolution in police access to information.
At last week's annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in Orlando, companies competed to prove that they could unite the myriad streams of fast-moving information into easily accessed, relevant sources of intelligence.
“There's been an exponential growth of all data, a giant pool of information, but much of it is kept in silos,” Jeff Frazier, Senior Vice President at the Wynyard Group, told The Crime Report.
Wynyard sells crime analytics software that enables beat cops to quickly drill down relevant information from disparate databases.
It's one of a number of companies that promise to unite the so-called “Internet of things” — the increasing selection of gear and devices collecting and communicating data, video and other information — with the laptops, tablets and other personal computing tools many cops now carry on the job.
Even burgeoning markets, like the one for body-worn cameras, are rushing to prove they can enhance their products through high-speed mobile data.
Taser highlighted a new line of tools that sync information with evidence.com, a website that allows police departments to access information from cameras, Tasers and other police tools.
Utility, a company that makes body-worn cameras (a product line called “BodyWorn”) was hawking a new line that can live-stream to central command and automatically pairs footage with GPS and an accelerometer.
Despite fears by officers and civilians that such cameras could violate privacy rights or complicate policing, Robert McKeeman, Co-Founder of Utility, said there's no stopping the soon-to-be ubiquity of cameras in policing.
“It's inevitable,” McKeeman said. “People are often uncomfortable with advances in technology, but police went from horses to cars and now we wouldn't question that.”
More than a dozen companies at the convention showcased camera systems, ranging from simple clip-on cams, like the ones sold by Wolfcom for $199, to comprehensive citywide surveillance systems offered by companies like Total Recall and Genetec.
Thousands of police chiefs and law enforcement representatives from around the world wandered the more than one-million-square-foot exhibition space at the Orange County Convention Center between Oct. 25 and Oct. 28. They ogled and tested thousands of products offered by hundreds of companies, and pocketed logoed freebies ranging from pens and notepads to USB car chargers and model airplanes.
The Crime Report walked the exhibit hall at the IACP conference, examining the latest in innovations being offered to police departments.
At a time when there is increasing concern about the militarization of U.S. police forces, the convention offered an eye-opening glimpse of the future of 21st-century law enforcement.
There was a bristling array of heavy weapons (including automatic and semiautomatic guns), armored trucks, helicopters and drones. But the items offered included both high-tech and low-tech innovations, ranging from thermal-imaging cameras that attach to cell phones, to unique jail benches., with customizable handcuff bars built in.
Below is a slideshow of some of the most intriguing new products on display at the conference:
Graham Kates is Deputy Managing Editor of The Crime Report. He welcomes comments from readers.