The NSW Police has a long history of locking up, but in a change of direction for the state police force, it will have to get used to being locked down, courtesy of 20 iPad minis being trialled to help reduce the amount of time that officers spend on administrative tasks.
The app, called Mobile Notices, allows officers to issue traffic infringement notices, capture location information, and conduct live lookups of information, such as licence and registration data, in NSW Police's central Computerised Operational Policing System (COPS).
All data captured by the app is transmitted back to COPS and the NSW State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) for processing. Should the iPad have a working data connection, the transmission occurs immediately, whereas if the officer is without a data connection, the information is queued and sent when the officer returns to an area with coverage.
Mobile Notices also allows the officer to notify the infringing driver of the number of points that they have lost, what their new licence total is, and what the fine incurred is. The infringement notice is prepared as a PDF, which the driver can request to be delivered via email, SMS, or traditional mail. When a non-postal method of delivery is selected, the driver gets the notice immediately, otherwise the request to mail the notice is handled by the SDRO.
The original idea for the app was proposed by front-line officers, with the final app itself being developed by local mobile application development company Gridstone, which started work on a prototype app earlier this year.
"Not only did we need a secure connection between the mobile device and NSW Police's back-end systems, we also knew we were dealing with highly sensitive personal information, so we had to ensure the security of the information we were recording and sending via the device," said Lembit Pikkat, director at Gridstone.
"The iPads are locked down, so that any information is wiped and the device reset should anyone attempt to access them without authorisation. No data relating to the infringement notices, including photos, are stored on the device once the notice has been sent."
Gridstone makes use of Amazon Web Services' public cloud in Sydney, and said that any data that passes through its infrastructure is "only stored for the duration of the transaction, and is then deleted from both the device and the cloud servers".
"The AWS servers, and the connections made to NSW government's internal systems meet state government regulations with regards to information protection," the company said in a statement.
Should the trial be successful, a business case will be made to gain further funding, and a tender process begun to source for suppliers. It is claimed by NSW Police that a successful rollout of Mobile Notices would save an estimated 240,000 police hours and AU$1.2 million per year.
"If the trial is a success and the app fully deployed, it will give NSW Police the opportunity to spend more time on front-line policing and less on administrative tasks back at the station — which will have a positive impact on both road safety and officer effectiveness," said NSW Police Superintendent Karen McCarthy, who is overseeing the trial.
Officers bearing iPad minis are currently deployed across Sydney and a number of regional areas.
This new trial continues to demonstrate the taste that NSW Police has gained for Cupertino-designed, Chinese-made hardware.
Last year, the police service issued all of its 280 in-court prosecutors with iPads to facilitate the use of a new legal research app.