TPSB approves broadband upgrade for police cruisers

The Toronto Police Services Board will be rolling out a new broadband public wireless network across its fleet of cruisers starting next month allowing officers to spend less time uploading information at the station and more

time out on the street.

Officers filling out an occurrence report, for example, currently have to go back to the station to transfer the information to the database. With the new system in place, they will be able to do it from wherever they are.

The board has selected Rogers Wireless for the project, which it expects to complete by October. A spokesperson from Rogers was unavailable before press time Wednesday. The four-year, $2.7 million contract, which includes cost of modems and connectivity fees, will likely be signed by August 1st, according to a board spokesperson.

The contract was approved at the police services board meeting Tuesday.

Once the contract is signed, the board will install modems on eight cars per day for a total of 450, with the intent to add another 50 in the coming months, said John Macchiusi, manager of communications and system operations, Toronto Police Services Board.

“When we put the computers in, we made allowance for adding a wireless modem for the public side of the system,” said Macchiusi in an interview Wednesday. “It’s matter of bringing the car in, opening up the computer box, putting the modem in, closing it up and away you go.”

The Rogers Wireless system has been in place at 31 Division since March as part of a four-month pilot project. Macchiusi said the station’s commander has targeted 70 per cent of officers’ work to be done in the field.

“Obviously you have to come back to division if you arrest somebody,” said Macchiusi. “The target is to keep the cars out in the street. This is one of the ways he’s doing it.”

After the modems have been installed, officers will be able to get information at 150 kbps – 15 to 20 times faster than under the previous digital network. The Data911 Computer Assisted Dispatch System workstations, which were installed in the cruisers last year, currently have two wireless networks. These include an 802.11 network that’s closer to division and a private Motorola network.

The Motorola system, which was installed in 1999, was designed to support small messages as opposed to mug shots, for example, and is a shared system.

“Every car that’s on that base station has to share all the pathways,” said Macchiusi. “We had to make sure we didn’t disrupt the network. That’s all gone away with the new project.”

Macchiusi added the new system also resolves interference issues such as sporadic response times with the old network.

The system allows for future applications such as a card reader that allows an officer to swipe a driver’s licence, which then pre-populates the criminal queries. The board also hopes to eventually get pictures from the provincial licence bureau.

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