UK think tank Reform has said smartphones have transformed the way individuals approach everyday interactions and it is time they empowered the police service.
Reform researchers said that with ever-changing demand, police forces should take the opportunity to go digital. Smart technology has the potential to transform the front-line and by embracing this technology, emergency services will ensure they are providing the best response for those most in need.
Sarah Timmis, research at Reform, said: “New technology is set to transform how information is stored and shared to create smarter and more joined-up services.
Quoting MP Nick Hurd that while policing’s greatest asset is its people, its biggest opportunity is technology, she said: “Successfully exploiting this opportunity promises more efficient, more collaborative, and more responsive emergency services, fit to respond to citizens’ needs.”
Technology could be used to provide those on the front-line with information at every stage of a crisis, increasing the effectiveness of service delivery. Respondents on the way to an incident can instantly receive information directly from the ground and with rising pressure and limited resources in the force, the use of technological innovations on the front-line are imperative.
“Once at the scene, technology can aid situational awareness and identify those involved. For firefighters, thermal imagers, which render images based on heat rather than light, can be used to guide a firefighter safely through a building, and real-time feedback can be provided to colleagues on the situation. Biometric technology can then help identify the needs of the people involved, to understand interventions that might be needed,” Timmis said. “In February, the Home Office announced a successful trial that allowed police to record fingerprints on mobile devices, allowing frontline officers to identify individuals instantly.”
She said that after an incident, smartphones can minimise administrative tasks by instantly recording information remotely, increasing the time spent by emergency service professionals on the front-line.
In the future, mobile devices could connect those involved to the appropriate follow-up services, including mental health or probation services, and help understand the outcomes of different interventions.
Timmis said: “Technology must be embedded into practice on the frontline. The first step is for smartphones to become ‘business as usual’ across the country. This will lead to the adoption of other technologies that can further empower police officers to deliver first-rate services fit for the digital age.”