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Calling All Cars: Upgraded and Updated Car Radios and Mobile Computers Give San Diego PD Patrol Officers a New Edge

NCJ Number
Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine Volume: 27 Issue: 11 Dated: November 2003 Pages: 44,46,49
Jo'el Roth
Date Published
November 2003
5 pages
This article discusses upgraded and updated car radios and mobile computers in patrol cars.
The San Diego (California) Police Department has patrol cars equipped with a state-of-the-art digital communications system. The police department’s test car has an integrated system that includes a Panasonic Toughbook ruggedized laptop, which is docked and locked in the trunk of the car. In the cab, the Panasonic color matrix LCD screen can be operated by touch, or by a separate keyboard. The communications go out over the air via Sierra Wireless ruggedized vehicle mount modems that are anchored to the car with Gamber Johnson laptop docking stations and Jotto Desk consoles. If the test of the new integrated system is successful, San Diego PD plans to slowly upgrade its entire fleet, car by car, over the next 2 years. The new system will eventually allow officers out in the field to immediately view color images, such as mug shots and fingerprints. They will also be able to work on their laptop computers outside of their cars and then connect them back into the cars as needed. The backbone of the new wireless communications is the latest evolution of cellular transmission systems that carry the voice and data messages. The department is currently on a digital cellular system, and will eventually change to a newer version of a digital cellular system, or protocol. The department’s current digital cellular system operates on Cellular Digital Data Packet (CDPD) protocol. The new system will gradually change from CDPD to GPRS, or GSM Packet Radio Service that features packet-switching technology for high-speed data transfer. The GPRS System moves up to a different frequency band, and more data can be sent through the networks. The conversion process will be relatively easy.