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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

D.C. Police Officers Carry iPhones, Panasonic Toughbooks

A Tucked in with their Tasers and service weapons, some District of Columbia police officers are now sporting iPhones.

An initiative spearheaded by Vivek Kundra, chief technology officer for the District of Columbia, is putting Apple's smartphone -- along with Panasonic Toughbook laptops -- into the hands of public safety responders in a bid to make it easier for the police force to respond to incidents and process crime reports.

Police officers can use the iPhone to run traffic checks, track patrol routes and better respond to incidents, says Kundra.

"We are trying to create a cultural shift in public safety needs," he says. "The idea is to change from using radios and simple data devices to something that can facilitate real-time and two-way information exchange."

Kundra says he zeroed on iPhones after testing devices from Samsung, Nokia and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.

"Apple has done an amazing job with the user interface," says Kundra. "The browser application and application integration is so simple that adoption becomes a lot easier in terms of change management, which is what we are driving for."

The D.C. government has been testing the iPhones since Apple launched a beta program for the device among enterprises. About 75 iPhones are being used in the areas of public safety, education and healthcare.

Kundra says he realized consumer technologies have greater use for public deployment than expensive enterprise solutions because they are easy to use and are low cost.

"The first time I walked out in D.C. I realized I have more computing power in my hand than the average police officer or teacher," says Kundra. "Traditionally we have invested in massive multi-million dollar initiatives that have never lived up to their promise. But if you look at the consumer space, whether it is with the iPhone or Google Apps it works well and is less expensive." [Mark Godsey]

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