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LA Sheriff Patrol Cars Get Unique Laptops

At CES 2012, Raytheon is showing off mobile units with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other capabilities; plans call for installation in 2,400 LASD vehicles.

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The LA Sheriff's Department (LASD) has replaced outdated text-only terminals in its patrol cars with new Wi-Fi-enabled laptop systems that provide a range of new communication and law-enforcement capabilities.

Raytheon, the prime contractor on the project, integrated various technologies into the LASD's new Mobile Digital Computer Systems (MDCSs), which have been installed in more than 100 vehicles so far, according to the company.

Eventually, the systems will be available in 2,400 LASD patrol cars, command-post vehicles, prisoner-transport buses, motorcycles, and patrol boats. Raytheon and the LASD plans to show off the new systems at the CES Showstoppers event at the annual technology confab in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

[ Interested in other ways technology is helping law enforcement? See Biometric Standard Expanded To Include DNA, Footprints. ]

Until the creation of the new systems, LASD vehicles were outfitted with monochromatic systems used merely for text communications that had been in place since the 1980s, said a Raytheon spokesperson via email. The department found it difficult to find parts for and service the terminals, which prompted the project to develop the new systems.

The MDCSs boast modern Internet and location-based capabilities, including GPS, Wi-Fi, Internet, and e-mail access, and route-to-call mapping, which can help deputies find the scene of an emergency, according to Raytheon.

The MDCSs also include Bluetooth-based fingerprint reading from outside the vehicle and swipe readers for reading driver's license information, the company said.

CES is the largest technology conference in the United States, and for the seventh year it will hold a government conference as part of its agenda to highlight innovations happening in that sector.

Notable speakers for this year's theme of "Mobile Government Today and Tomorrow" include U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel and Roger Baker, CIO of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

VanRoekel plans to speak about the future of government IT, something he has been in charge of at the federal level since taking over for President Obama's first CIO, Vivek Kundra, in August.

Baker, whose organization has been one of the federal leaders in deploying mobile technologies, plans to discuss how to secure a government that is increasingly going mobile. Last year, the VA began allowing hospital clinicians and employees to use smartphones such as iPhones and Android-based devices to access information from its electronic health records (EHR) system and other internal applications.

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