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Laptops help collar criminals.


Extending computer system technology to patrol officers helps promote public safety in Bolingbrook, Ill. The limited capabilities of mobile data terminals (MDTs) led the police departments to laptop computers.

Laptops give each mobile unit an "intelligent" processor to extend the capability of the base computer.

The police needed fully interactive on-line computer-aided dispatch to provides the speed and relational-database capabilities necessary in its public-safety application.

They use an AT- compatible laytop made by Dauphin Technology Inc., Lombard, Ill.

The system comes fron Integrated Computer Concepts, Arlington Heights, Ill., which also developed the protocol for the laptop and dispatch system to communicate over an 800 MHz radio channel.

During the planning phases of the system and mobile interface, we researched integrating an on-line automatic vehicle location (AVL) system to enhance resource management and reduce emergency response time.

We weighed the AVL technology options, then selected a standard LORAN receiver to be mounted in each vehicle.

U.S. Coast Guard transmitters in the Great Lakes Chain send radio signals to a LORAN receiver in the patrol car. The receiver converts these signals to latitude-longitude data and sends them to the car's on-board laptop.

Police and fire telecommunicators gain an immediate visual reference to available units for emergency response to incoming requests for service, through the addition of this data to outgoing data transmissions from the car to the base CAD system at programmed intervals.

This data is also used to position car icons on a computerized map of Bolingbrook, displayed on a 37" monitor in the dispatch center.

The calls for service may be broadcast silently, using data transmission, by voice on the VHF frequency, or a combination of both. Each car computer has the same capabilities as the dispatcher's workstation, except the car computer uses a monochrome LCD screen rather than EGA color.

Excellent Graphics

In addition to the standard capabilities afforded MDT users, the laptops combine graphics capability unmatched by MDTs.

Each car has a digitized map of Bolingbrook which is updated in real time with all mobile unit locations, using the LORAN data being transmitted to the base computer and display.

This provides a visual reference to other unit locations.

It also affords a very efficient means for locating streets and addresses.

A free-form message screen permits data messages between field units and base workstations.

This reduces traffic on a crowded voice frequency.

As the Bolingbrook system became a reality, the police department continued to plan and expand its capabilities for law enforcement.

For example, it integrated a program called CompuSketch to draw suspect composites on the computer.

The department plans to integrate photo digitizing of arrest photos fairly soon. This will enable photo line-ups to be generated by the computer based upon suspect modus operandi and/or physical description.
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Author:Wolfe, Thomas A.
Publication:Communications News
Date:Dec 1, 1990
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