Unless you regularly watch "24", the word smartphone may not be the first thought that pops into your head in connection with public safety and crime-fighting tools. The San Diego Police Department, though, is making the Treo 700w standard equipment for select officers.Last season on "24", fictional CTU Agent Jack Bauer used a Treo to fight terrorists. I'll be the first to say that the battery life, processor, and network speeds he experienced over the course of the day were a tad better than the average person will ever get. Even if it took some liberties, the show did a good job of demonstrating how mobile technology can aid public safety efforts. Seems S.D.P.D. got the drift.
By deploying Palm Treo 700w smartphones throughout its workforce, S.D.P.D. hopes to keep more officers in the field, reduce time spent at subdivisions on desktop computers, lighten the device load, and keep dispersed field officers more connected. The department has worked with Palm and other technology providers to enable the devices with some interesting applications, such as access to photos on file with the California Department of Justice; access to a multifaceted dispatching system that helps officers run criminal records, plates, and firearm registration queries in the field; and an investigative tool that lets officers see extensive histories on people and vehicles, as well as cross-reference drivers' licenses and view booking photos.
Officers have long had wireless access to this type of information, though mostly from laptops installed in their patrol cars. Deployments such as this are perfect for officers who don't have regular access to a patrol car's computer, like officers who are on foot patrol, or are horse- or bicycle-mounted. With the right mobile tools, they can have the same access to information that their desk-bound colleagues have, but where they need it.
Now if we can only prevent parking enforcement officers from getting their hands on this...