NSW Police dragging feet on mobile device rollout

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NSW Police dragging feet on mobile device rollout

As digital driver's licence nears launch.

The rollout of mobile devices to frontline police officers in NSW is falling behind the efforts of other jurisdictions, with only a fraction of the total police force currently covered by the deployment.

This is despite the impending launch of digital driver's licences across the state, slated before the end of this month, prompting new rationale for the devices.

NSW Police has been gradually rolling out additional ‘MobiPol’ devices to operational and specialist officers since introducing the first 500 Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphones in February 2015.

The ‘MobiPol’ devices give officers the ability to access the core operational policing system, which the force plans to replace with a new all-in-one system, to perform background checks on vehicles.

But more than four years after the initial deployment of devices, Australia’s largest police force has rolled out only 4200 additional devices to frontline officers.

A spokesperson told iTnews that the “approximately 4700 Samsung MobiPol handsets and tablets” deployed to date. This includes both Samsung Note 8 and 9 devices following a “standard refresh” by Telstra.

While this is double the number of Samsung devices that were available to officers at the end of June 2017, the figure means the vast majority of the 16,000 sworn police officers don't carry a device.

A further 1200 Apple iPads are also deployed across the force after being purchased from Telstra by individual commands, though these are not MobiPol enabled.

The only other similarly sized police force in Australia, Victoria Police, has deployed in excess of 9000 Apple devices for its 14,600 police officers.

This is despite starting the $118 million rollout well after NSW Police, after the deployment was pushed back to late 2017 due to complexities with the build.

By comparison, WA Police plans to introduce 3500 devices for a force consisting of roughly 6000 officers.

However, despite the limited number of devices, NSW Police still managed to issue 94 percent of infringements using MobiPol devices last financial year.

Digital licences prompt new funding

With the digital drivers licence poised to rollout state-wide, the MobiPol devices is set to gain a new purpose as a tool for scanning licences against backend police systems.

While this is just one of the ways police can verify the new opt-in electronic licences, the ability to scan a licence would remove the need for police to examine visual security features like they would a physical licence or radio back to the station for more information.

It is one of the reasons why NSW Police is planning to deploy a further 800 MobiPol devices over the next 12 months after receiving $1.6 million in this year’s budget.

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