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ABCs of Mobile Reporting

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 55 Issue: 11 Dated: November 2007 Pages: 36-38,40,44
Brad Brewer
Date Published
November 2007
8 pages
This article provides guidance on planning and implementing in-car mobile data terminals (MDTs) in order to supply front-line officers with computer-aided dispatch data.
In planning and implementing an effective mobile reporting network, the challenge is twofold. First, the system must provide the front-line officers with the tools they need to function as if they were in the office while remaining in the field. Second, the system must provide these officers with access to information within minutes without the restriction of jurisdictional borders or interdepartmental information segregation. These challenges are most likely to be met when planning for a system of MDTs involves selected leaders from front-line officers who encounter information-processing issues on a daily basis. Further, whatever system is implemented, it must provide around-the-clock expert technical support either through a 24-hour helpline or a roving "help car" of two uniformed front-line officers with specialized training in the system's operation. In planning a MDT system, software selection should be specific to each agency and its particular requirements, based on the agency's roles and responsibilities. Appropriate mobile software is the key to the success of any mobile computing project. It involves two components: functional reception and input under mobile field conditions and word processing. Even the best software, however, requires dependable wireless connectivity for effective mobile operation. Each agency must determine what type of wireless system is most appropriate. This article provides guidance on coverage and reliability. Other issues addressed in this article are computer hardware for a mobile computing project, the importance of purchasing rugged rather than consumer-grade laptop computers, and installation and maintenance.