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What technologies do cops want?

A Police1 survey asked LEOs how they use technology now and how they’d like to use it in the future

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Our PoliceOne survey showed that technology continues to be a priority for cops.

The following is paid content sponsored by Motorola Solutions.

By Police1 BrandFocus Staff

LE agencies require purpose-built technologies that can provide reliable voice, video and data to officers in the field where and when they need it most.

Police1 wanted to know which voice-, video- and data- capable technologies officers currently use to help improve situational awareness and decision-making while managing an incident, so we published a survey asking readers how they use technology today and what’s on their wish list for future technologies and applications.

Here’s what we learned.

Cops need reliable access to data

There is no doubt that today’s LEOs want access to past incident and suspect data on the job from mobile devices like tablets, two-way radios and smartphones. Having this information on hand gives officers real-time access to data, which improves situational awareness and helps officers adjust their tactics when responding to an incident.

When readers were asked how often they expected data to be available during an incident, nearly 70 percent of respondents said “always.” This includes past incident information, arrest warrants, suspect profiles and video feeds.

INFOGRAPHIC: Download the survey results infographic to view additional key data!

LEOs require data to prepare for an incident and make informed decisions. On a typical patrol shift, officers need to query license plate tags, access arrest history and look up previous contacts or violations with law enforcement.

These types of data applications on devices like smartphones or two-way radios are staples of the modern cop’s workday. In fact, 67 percent of respondents said apps are a mainstay in their technology toolkit.

Our survey found that beyond the traditional apps, LEOs are using apps for report writing, searching narcotic substances, uploading video, mapping an address and translation, among other uses.

These applications help LEOs provide more efficient reports when the information is fresh, deliver intelligence officers can use to assess an incident, and help officers communicate with diverse communities in any capacity, whether for community relations or arrests.

Purpose-built devices enable collaboration

LEOs need devices that are designed and built just for them, rather than consumer-grade devices that can be bought off the shelf.

These purpose-built devices—meaning those specifically engineered for the rugged and unpredictable nature of a cop’s job—are crucial tools to keep everyone on the team communicating and collaborating.

That’s why it was no surprise that the Police1 survey found that 88 percent of respondents still primarily communicate via two-way radios, which are purpose-built and run on LMR dedicated networks that make sure voice and data communication gets through even in the toughest environments.

As more digital content is readily available, LEOs expect immediate access to richer information, from GPS tracking of vehicles to real-time video and sensors. The dilemma is how to best utilize it all. Agencies will need to have multiple networks in place, along with purpose-built smart devices that allow LEOs to respond and collaborate in real time.

New devices and applications on the horizon

Police are only scratching the surface when it comes to some of the new technologies available to them.

While the majority of LEOs use two-way radios and smartphones, they want to add new technologies to their current communication toolkit. Having more multimedia data available in the field means more information, which can include past arrests or current warrants, to help identify suspects and improve situational awareness.

It’s interesting to compare where respondents are now and where they want to be. When asked what technologies your agency currently uses, only about 6 percent said they use drones, about 4 percent used sensors, and less than half a percent used heads-up displays.

In comparison, when asked what technologies they wanted in the future, we saw a big jump in those same categories. Drones rose 29 percentage points, from 6 to 35 percent; heads-up displays rose 20.5 percentage points, from .5 to nearly 21 percent; and sensors rose 9 points to 14 percent.

These significant jumps further demonstrate LEOs’ demand for more data from multiple sources to improve decision-making.

Whether with two-way data-capable radios they are using today or companion technologies they hope to adopt soon, like drones, sensors and heads-up displays, our Police1 survey showed that technology continues to be a priority for cops. Officers want to be able to access data for administrative tasks like report writing or media like video feeds that can help them identify a suspect or size up a situation, leading to better decision making and preparedness for an incident.

To learn more about technology solutions for police communications, contact Motorola Solutions.