Tracey's Technology Blog

Technology news and gadget reviews relating to all of the latest consumer electronics products

20 March 2006

Should GPS Technology Be Used As Standard In Police Vehicles

GPS technology has rapidly become mainstream in recent months; and one of the significant factors contributing to this growing trend is the hugely increased traffic on today's roads. So, with GPS technology now being utilised by a growing number of fire and emergency medical service vehicles worldwide, it made me question 'why are the police force not using GPS systems as standard in their emergency vehicles?'

Whilst talking to a police constable from West Yorkshire, it made me realise the potential difference a GPS system fitted inside an emergency vehicle could make to the performance of our police service.

PC Blezard explained to me how challenging it used to be, before he bought his GPS unit, to arrive at an emergency scene within the maximum time limit of 15 minutes. "It used to be hard driving at high speeds with blue lights flashing and sirens sounding while also having to read a map, and listen to radio updates; not to mention having to negotiate the amount of congestion on today's roads.” Explained PC Blezard.

With the potential to provide on-board Live traffic updates and re-routing expertise, GPS technology has the ability to avoid traffic build-ups with ease. “My GPS can calculate the fastest route instantly, using shortest distance and taking in to account speed limit factors. My work colleagues are amazed at how quickly I can get to calls.” Says PC Blezard.

GPS technology is becoming increasingly advanced. Some GPS systems can now integrate mapping and database information, which could allow the police to easily locate and deploy the crew closest to a crime scene. The sensitivity of the latest GPS receivers, especially those integrated with WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) provide positional accuracy and precision of approximately 2 metres, which again would be perfect for the police service, for whom accuracy is pivitol.

PC Blezard suggested the police force are worried about the security factor of having GPS units inside every police vehicle. However, with the very latest GPS systems also integrating security features in order to combat theft, the police force are likely to view this as a prominent improvement to existing solutions. With response times also having improved significantly since the emergency medical services adopted this technology, I don't think it will be long before the police force have GPS systems fitted as standard.


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