Smart technology aims to help iCops

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2013
TECHED UP: Police Minister Ann Tolley talks with, from left, Detective Constable Andrea Quinn, Constable Harriet Murray and Detective Richard Gibson about their new iPhones and iPads.
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ

TECHED UP: Police Minister Ann Tolley talks with, from left, Detective Constable Andrea Quinn, Constable Harriet Murray and Detective Richard Gibson about their new iPhones and iPads.

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After almost a year on her new iPhone, Lower Hutt's Detective Constable Andrea Quinn was worried she would have to hand it back.

Instead, she, and 6500 colleagues, will be issued with iPhones and iPads by the middle of next year.

Prime Minister John Key announced the technology rollout yesterday and said it would mean officers could spend an additional 520,000 hours on the beat - the equivalent of 345 more staff.

The technology would cost $163 million over the next 11 years and the money was coming out of existing police baselines.

The contract with Vodafone includes hardware upgrades.

The phones and tablets will be password-protected and can be accessed remotely and wiped if lost or stolen.

Ms Quinn took part in an 11-month smartphone trial and said it changed the way she worked. "I was hoping we weren't going to lose them at the end of the trial because I'd honestly be lost without it."

Having the technology meant officers could check the serial numbers of suspected stolen goods while out on a job rather than having to note down the number and return to the office.

"Obviously by the time you get back to the place it could be gone. This way I've got the tablet there right away, put the serial number in, bang, it tells me if it's stolen or not and I can take it there and then."

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall said police had been asking for access to the technology for some time. It would fundamentally change how police did their job.

"I want officers to be out of police stations, I want them out in cars, walking the beat."

Police Minister Anne Tolley said the introduction of the new technologies would not mean job cuts. "This is about getting more frontline hours."

Police Association president Greg O'Connor welcomed the announcement and said it would boost effectiveness.

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- Fairfax Media

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