Schertz Motorcycle Police Unit Improves Efficiency and Community and Officer Safety
Until recently, when it came to equipping the Schertz Police Department Motorcycle units with the technology to put real-time information at the fingertips of its officers and provide access to mobile applications to improve citizen and officer safety, they lagged behind the Patrol Car units. The patrols cars are equipped with rugged laptop computers that provide officers with access to all the information they need to help them make informed decisions and keep themselves and constituents safer.
The motorcycle unit did carry cell phones and have e-citation devices, but they did not have access to the same information that was available in patrol cars or have GPS tracking. “We were carrying several devices to perform a variety of functions but we were still lacking GPS location tracking and we couldn’t access our Mobile CAD software and Records Management System (RMS) to get the real-time information we needed on perpetrators,” says Schertz Police Public Safety Information Systems Administrator Dallas Berry.
Fortunately, with the advent of smaller, more transportable rugged tablet PCs and the software applications that run on them, those days are over. About six months ago, the Schertz Police Department, Schertz, Texas, began testing MobileDemand xTablet rugged tablet PC systems with the Motorcycle unit. MobileDemand worked with Schertz and RAM Mounts to provide a custom vehicle mount that would allow the rugged tablet PCs to be locked down on the motorcycle handlebar so that the display could be easily seen without obstructing the officers’ view or impacting the driver’s ability in any way. In addition to demonstrating a viable solution for mounting the tablets to the motorcycles, Schertz had a number of other requirements.
The Customer Challenge
According to Berry, “We were looking for a mobile computing system that was multi-functional. It needed to run all the applications we were running in other places; provide GPS tracking; offer mag-stripe reading, signature capture and a color camera; provide real-time communications; allow access to our Mobile CAD system and enable on-site accident reporting; and in the future consolidate the number of devices officers are required to carry. The MobileDemand xTablets brought that to the table and more. Plus, they have been able to hold up in the Texas heat, rain and constant humidity.”
Texas summer temperatures top 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Motorcycle unit officers work a 10 hour shift in the full sun and excessive heat. “The computers used in the patrol cars spend most of the day in an air conditioned environment. But the xTablets are out in the elements—extreme temperatures and the glaring sun all day. They’re also out in the rain, and they’re getting beat on,” Berry says. “We have yet to have the xTablet fail or shutdown from exposure to excessive heat or moisture. The performance we are seeing with the MobileDemand tablets far exceeds our expectations.” Berry continues.
The MobileDemand Solution
Since deploying the MobileDemand xTablet Rugged Tablet PC systems the Motorcycle units of the Schertz Police Department feel a lot safer. Berry says, “The GPS tracking on the MobileDemand tablets is rock solid. It provides accurate turn-by-turn directions and has helped so much with officer safety. Officers have a true sense now that someone else has their back. When they are in route to a call, headquarters knows where they are at all times. When they’ve been dispatched to a residence, the tablet provides instant access to caution notes and area advisories in real time.”
The MobileDemand xTablet rugged tablet PCs have streamlined operations for the Schertz Police Motorcycle units in a number of ways. The full Microsoft Windows operating system and powerful Intel processor have allowed the force to access all the various applications in the field that are used in the office or by the patrol car units including mapping software, eCitation, Records Management, and Mobile CAD. “We needed a Windows device that could support all our applications and work with our mapping software. The MobileDemand xTablet is that device. It handles all our applications with ease. Also, when the device is locked down on the motorcycles we can get detailed directions and routing instructions directly accessible by the officer,” Berry says.
The new xView Pro technology is one of many xTablet features that helps officers be more productive outdoors in the bright sunlight as well as in low light environments. It provides a reflective mode for enhanced viewing in the most intense sunlight and a back-lit transflective mode for superior viewing in low light conditions. The xView Pro display also supports full motion video. Along with the 5 MP color camera, Schertz officers can now document accidents
and include videos and photos in incident reports.
“We really like all the mobility features of the MobileDemand tablets,” says Berry. “When we need to we can undock the device, take pictures and time-stamp and Geo-tag them. We can also use the mag-stripe reader to swipe drivers’ licenses and capture signatures for e-Citations.
The Results: Innovation everywhere. Productivity anywhere.
The MobileDemand xTablet rugged tablet PC system has helped the Schertz Motorcycle officers become more efficient by shortening response times, better utilizing resources and cutting costs. The tablets keep the information flowing from the time of a call for service to dispatching an officer on site. This cuts down on radio time leaving the lines open for more emergency calls. “The tablets allow us to stay out where we’ve been assigned, closer to where the problems are. This keeps the force available to respond quicker when needed” Berry says.
The MobileDemand tablets also allow officers to become more productive by enabling them to perform tasks in the field that used to require them to go back to headquarters to complete. “Instead of driving 30 minutes to and from our assigned area, we can complete all our reports onsite,” says Berry. “We can simply undock the tablet and do our reports, write up narratives, capture images of a crime or accident scene, map it out, and even check their email out on location. The MobileDemand tablets have made them far more efficient while cutting costs. We spend less on gas and wear and tear on the vehicles. We will also be able to cut down on the number of devices that need to be deployed to the force which will save on upfront, maintenance and repair costs.”
In the near future the Schertz Police Department plans to implement a new crash reporting method from the Texas Department of Transportation. The MobileDemand tablet is an ideal form factor for supporting this application. “You can use the application on a handheld, but it’s better served on a tablet,” Berry says. “It’s going to have a full blown smart screen mapping and diagramming capability that can be used for any kind of accident you can imagine. We’re going to be able to use the tablets to map out the entire scene,” Berry continues.
In addition, the MobileDemand tablets will allow the Schertz Police Department to work more efficiently with other agencies. “We go on shared EMS service calls. Both agencies get dispatched to the same incident. There are notes that go with the service that everyone sees. We all get updated in real time. We never could do all this without a device like the xTablet,” Berry says.
Community and officer safety are paramount for the Schertz Police Department and access to mission-critical data at the fingertips of its officers in the field is key. These were the driving forces behind their decision to equip the Motorcycle units with xTablet rugged tablet PC systems. What began as a test has resulted in a solution that is being regarded as an innovative model for other agencies. “Recently some officers from the city of San Antonio came down to see the xTablets in action. They were thrilled. They never conceived of mounting tablets on the motorcycles like we’ve done. We’re setting a precedent by taking a simple step toward greater fleet uniformity and improved officer and community safety,” Berry concludes.