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Norfolk Police Officers To Be Tagged To Improve Response Times 150

Police in Norfolk, England already have tracking units, The Automatic Vehicle Location System, installed in their cars that allow a control room to track their exact locations. Later this year a similar system will be attached to individual police radios to allow controllers to monitor the position of every frontline officer. Combined with equipment that can pinpoint the locations of 999 callers, the system will allow the force to home in on "shouts" to within yards. The system also lets operators filter a map showing the location of its vehicles and constables to reveal only those with the skills needed for a specific incident, like the closest officer with silver bullets during a werewolf attack.


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Norfolk Police Officers To Be Tagged To Improve Response Times

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  • There wolf... There castle

    • by Anonymous Coward

      These upgrades to the Airwave (Tetra based radio/phone) termnials is clearly well overdue, as detecting the correct location is obviously a problem in this article.
      The police response car shown is from the Metropolitan Police (i.e. London, not Norfolk), and the Bedfordshire Police logo is from, er, Bedfordshire (again, not Norfolk!).
      On a serious note, the Airwave network which is now in use by all forces has the capability to carry GPS (and other data like this) over the network alongside the voice data, an

      • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @08:01AM (#27529803) Homepage Journal
        This will be cool, when someone is able to crack the system, and be able to monitor the cops as a part of the general public.

        They could put this in with Google maps....which would be cool. You see a large group of cop 'dots' in a group, you know THAT is the spot to go for doughnuts.

        You see cop dots on the map along the highway...slow down or you'll get a ticket.

        If you're a criminal, well, that ones obvious.

        Interesting scenarios come to mind....

        • by Jurily ( 900488 )

          You see cop dots on the map along the highway...slow down or you'll get a ticket.

          If you're not looking at the road while speeding, you should get a ticket. I don't mind going fast if the road and weather conditions allow it, but at least pay attention.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cayenne8 ( 626475 )
            "If you're not looking at the road while speeding, you should get a ticket. I don't mind going fast if the road and weather conditions allow it, but at least pay attention."

            I do pay attention.


            I do listen for the radar detector to go off....and of course, I keep up with road conditions with the old CB radio.

            Believe it or not, the CB works fantastic...these days, I know where the cops are WAY before the detector goes off about 98% of the time.

            Sometimes, old tech is hard to beat.

        • If you're a criminal, well, that ones obvious.

          And this is why a realtime public system would be irresponsible. You are giving criminals a great avoidance system while doing little more for the law-abiding public than what would be achieved by a similar system with at least a few hours' delay and a stored history so that you could play it back. Constant surveillance of private citizens is oppressive, but constant surveillance of public servants is an equalizer.

          I like the idea of a realtime system but the drawbacks far outweigh the advantages. I'm sur

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...assuming the officer can turn them off when he's indisposed, or off-duty.

    But, yeah. Anything that speeds up police response is nice.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Quantos ( 1327889 )
      It would also keep officers safer.
      If an officer is injured and can't coherently give his location, they can still find him and give him the aid that might save his life. I just hope that they can make the system really damned secure so that a criminal can't break into the system and use it to target officers.
      I'd like to see this extended to fire fighters as well.
    • Re:Sounds good... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) * <jwsmythe@jws[ ] ['myt' in gap]> on Friday April 10, 2009 @02:29AM (#27528533) Homepage Journal

          At least here in America (and I assume everywhere) they're suppose to call in for everything they do. It helps to track them, in case something happens.

          If they're 10-6 McDonalds, either they're grabbing a bite to eat, or taking a shit.

          If they're 10-7, they just went off-duty.

          If they're 10-8, they just came back on duty.

          There are some confusing ones. 10-9 may mean "please repeat", but 10-99 may mean "officer taken hostage".

          Because of the inaccuracy of 10 codes (they mean different things in different places), they are suppose to be replaced by plain english phrases. 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina made it difficult for different departments to work together. What may be shots fired, victim needs medical attention, may mean routine traffic stop in another. If you're involved in a shooting, it'd be nice to get backup, rather than assume you're doing a route traffic stop.

          10 codes were great for short messages to avoid congestion of common frequencies (like from all cars to dispatch), but now most departments are trunked, and the radios are much clearer. Another reason is so the person you're standing in front of doesn't know what you're talking about. Say you were taken hostage in a bank robbery, where the silent alarm wasn't it. It'd be simple to tell the robber "I need to check in, so dispatch doesn't worry." "Dispatch, I'm 10-99 at First National Bank.", and make it sound like you're just cashing a check. Now you've not given away your real intent (HELP!) and the robber thinks all is clear for a while until the SWAT team shows up.

          Oh, did I digress? Sorry.

      •   Assuming that the criminals don't know what the 10 codes mean, that is :)


        •     Most criminals are stupid. At least the ones you hear about getting caught. The smart ones do it where not only don't they get caught, but the victims frequently don't even know it happened for quite a while. :)

              Daytime bank robbery must be one of the stupidest ones. Armed security guard. Customers in and out. Silent alarms. Video surveillance. Can you pick a worse target? Yet, people still do it.

          •   Agreed, but I suspect it doesn't take a lot of intelligence to find out about and memorize something as basic as the 10codes. It's not like they differ that much between cities (I don't know for sure, but I don't imagine they do,as it would foul up communications something fierce).

              I would also point out that law enforcement officials aren't always noted for being the brightest clowns in the circus either. ;)


      • call in is like so last century dude. Status changes tend to be computerised - you type in the 2 digit short-message code and press send, similar to texting in the '10' codes to the control centre.

  • The only thing I can wonder though is, Why haven't they done this before? Also great for if you've got an officer down. Unless they take his radio that is...
    • by zxnos ( 813588 ) <> on Friday April 10, 2009 @02:18AM (#27528489)

      couldnt this go horribly wrong?

      i know a guy who used to be a sniper and he said that he had to be extremely careful with communications devices for fear he could give up his position in the field. essentially the enemy could conceivably monitor for communications and determine general locations.

      granted local police and the military are different. yet, couldnt a troublemaker get a hold of this information and use it to their advantage?

      • I suppose so. OTH it sounds like a great aid to reducing response times. Once you know the location where a car is needed, dispatch can be immediate and automatic.
        • This goes both ways. :)
          Triangulate the signal (if you know the frequency), and you know where to flee. :)

      • by hazem ( 472289 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @04:23AM (#27528983) Journal

        couldnt this go horribly wrong?

        i know a guy who used to be a sniper and he said that he had to be extremely careful with communications devices for fear he could give up his position in the field. essentially the enemy could conceivably monitor for communications and determine general locations.

        In the military, what you're describing is a problem for someone who's wanting to hide. It's under the category of "electronic warfare/signals intelligence". In that field, people are trained to scan the radio spectrum, isolate different entities communicating, try to figure out who/what they are, and find their location (essentially through triangulation).*

        For what you're describing, it wouldn't matter what communications devices the person is using because it's the transmission itself that is detected. It takes somewhat sophisticated equipment to do the radio location. One person doing it would have to be moving around to get multiple fixes (assuming they could isolate the police officer's transmissions they want) until they could get a location on the police officer. But since most police operate in the open it's probably easier to just look for the uniform. Additionally, most police carry and use radios anyway, so doing a radio fix on them would work even without the tech in the article.

        However, the tech in the article could be open to hacking where someone gains access to the system that aggregates all the data and locations. That's new and interesting, but doing that hacking would require sophisticated equipment of its own.

        * It's the psy-op guys who get to try and defeat these monitoring efforts by making fake broadcasts to appear to be a unit that's not there - fun stuff! Even one of the old original Battlestar Galactica series used something like this where Starbuck and Apollo make radio calls as if they were whole squadrons.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Renraku ( 518261 )

        He's right, but military and police are two totally different worlds.

        In 'The Field' the enemy is monitoring all kinds of communications. They have guards setup, probably scouts, sensors, etc.

        In the domestic world, criminals rarely monitor anything beyond the end of their nose. Only a small percentage of criminals would be able to use this information to their advantage. The rest will continue to commit crimes and be caught, possibly more efficiently due to the new system described in the article.

        The kind

        • ... unless the criminals/terrorists seriously fuck up. Or confess.

          I'm gonna go out on a limb here and call those two behaviors functionally equivalent.

        • Odds are that if the criminals are using this sort of technology to track, trap and ambush cops, you're going to want to call out SWAT or the Military anyway. Then it doesn't matter, it's criminals/terrorists with guns and IEDs vs. Strykers and guys who could have Apache's for backup.

          A bit extreme I suppose, but something like this could certainly provide objective evidence proving or absolving a cop of abuse of power. "No, Mr. Internal Affairs Guy, there's no way I was over there taking that bribe becaus
      • I am not sure exactly how the hell a police officer with reflective lettings driving a white with red and yellow (reflective again) markings and more bells and whistes then a carnival ride is supposed to be secret.

        Criminals aint' all that high tech. If criminals were smart, they wouldn't be criminals. Oh and if some criminals do come to rely on tracking patrols then they will be easy marks for arrest teams. nobody says that ALL cops will wear trackers. Patrol cops are a deterrent, if a criminals spots one

        • If criminals were smart, they wouldn't be criminals.

          Not so. Unsuccessful career criminals tend to be stupid. Successful ones tend to be intelligent... just like any other career requiring thought.

          Inability to make money legitimately is not the only motivation for a criminal career.

      • Police in the field have been transmitting via radio regularly for decades. If that's not a problem, this won't be.

      • by kabocox ( 199019 )

        couldnt this go horribly wrong?

        i know a guy who used to be a sniper and he said that he had to be extremely careful with communications devices for fear he could give up his position in the field. essentially the enemy could conceivably monitor for communications and determine general locations.

        granted local police and the military are different. yet, couldnt a troublemaker get a hold of this information and use it to their advantage?

        I work at a police agency. Police scanners don't work any more around here

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Not really a good idea. While it would be conceivably fine for the officer to activate tracking and recording (combine digital video recording) prior to the officer engaging in activity that involves any form of aggressive contact with a citizen, whether physical or verbal. It is not really appropriate to turn the officer into an eight hour a day test lab for exposure to radiation.

      So while appropriate and useful in the collection of evidence for later use, it really needs to be limited, so minutes in th

      • by torako ( 532270 )
        The police already uses radio and cell phones and that isn't a reason to worry about radiation. That won't change.
        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )
          You of course miss the basic point, this represent continuous added exposure in 'ADDITION' to all the other sources of radiation. So all the background transmissions, added to additional interment personal transmissions and just to make it all the more interesting, add that to the EMR of all those power transmission lines. So everyone keeps adding 'ADDITIONAL' sources of exposure. So a bit of common sence before hand , rather than wringing your hands over future statistics where around 20% police officers o
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gbjbaanb ( 229885 )

      the thing I don't get is... why is this news? We already do do this.

      999 calls are already pinpointed, either by EISEC address lookup, or mobile ellipse (unfortunately most mobiles don't give out the exact location, but it has to be inferred from mast/cell positions)

      Officer handsets already return vehicle-location co-ordinates (depending on the handset, of course), but all Airwave [] (the UK's emergency service 'radio' network) handsets provide this.

      As for 'officer emergency' issues, they have a red button on t

  • That's a myth.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by BikeHelmet ( 1437881 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @01:51AM (#27528381) Journal

    like the closest officer with silver bullets during a werewolf attack.

    Silver bullets don't actually hurt werewolves. The only way we'll defeat them is by eliminating their source of power - the moon!

  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @01:52AM (#27528385)

    Hopefully this will bring some accountability. They can conceivable track the speed of police vehicles to make sure they are obeying traffic laws when not responding to an emergency. It can also be used to verify that an officer was where they were when they said they were there. Of course, this would only be affective if their friends back at the station weren't the ones monitoring.

    • by quenda ( 644621 )
      And finally it makes sense why their helmets look like radomes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gordonjcp ( 186804 )

      They can conceivable track the speed of police vehicles to make sure they are obeying traffic laws when not responding to an emergency.

      Might not be a bad thing. []

    • by torako ( 532270 )
      It would work like it does today: There are always two officers in a car, one to do something to your disadvantage, maybe illegal, and the other one to lie for him. It's not the way it's supposed to work, but just get into an accident with a police car and see what happens...
      • by Jaysyn ( 203771 )

        Where I live (north Florida) there isn't room for second officer with the laptop, printer & video camera set up in the passenger seat.

    • At least here in the Netherlands it is not required for the police to obey all traffic laws, even on normal patrol. It is perfectly legal for them to go over the speed limit if it is necessary for performing their duty.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dwpro ( 520418 )

      only be effective, affection has little to do with it.

  • by locust ( 6639 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @01:56AM (#27528397)

    That the tracking system is turn based and isometric.

  • I think that frequent tazing would improve their response times faster, and more consistently. Slow cop! No donuDSXZTTT! Perhaps shock collars. That would be nice.

    There might be some trouble getting the union to go along.

    • I know that you are trying to be funny. But how is this suddenly right, just because they are cops? They are humans too. Sure, if you have the power, it's easy to misuse it. But at least we should be morally above this.

      Of course if a cop becomes a bad cop, I'm for instant tazing too. (Instant, because this helps strengthen the associatio.n) But as little as possible. Just enough so they learn not to do it again.

  • by Fry-kun ( 619632 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @02:13AM (#27528467)

    I'm starting a pool on how soon devices that show you the nearest cops will be sold on eBay.
    Who needs radar detectors if you have a live map with all cops clearly marked??

    •     When I was a kid, we joked about marking all the patrol cars with a beacon. :) If you were within say a mile or so, your receiver would start beeping. Say goodbye to speeding tickets.

          I suspect if they get widely deployed, they'll just send GPS coordinates encoded over the in-car data networks, rather than just being an easily trackable beacon.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Hurricane78 ( 562437 )

        So? You just need to connect to the police server, over a grid of sattelites, trough a russian vpn tunnel, and get the password for the server via social engineering... It's almost too easy, Wayne!

      • Oh, btw. You do not need to decrypt their network data at all. You just need to build two receivers for the correct frequency, mount them on the front and on the back of your car, and then triangulate the signal with your laptop or something like that. If you know the frequency, it should only be a matter of having some time and money.

        Or am I missing something?

        • Triangulation using two receivers that are right next to each-other would be so inaccurate.

          Come to think of it, triangulation using two receivers is pretty inaccurate.

          • Biangulation(?) can work really well provided the computer has been adequately trained.

            Your eyes for instance. You can judge how far away, and how much left or right, provided that you have previously witnessed the same, or similar object at that distance. Sonar, Radar and Lidar basically have only one eye.

            • No, still triangulation. The third point is the point you are trying to find.
        • Ahh, you hit it first try. :) I did like your other response though. :)

          Most patrol cars that I've seen have not just a trunked radio, but they also have an onboard computer with a wireless network card. The one I had a chance to have a good look at years ago wasn't your regular cell network card. It used their own network on a frequency I hadn't seen used for anything else. Ahhh, your signal.

          Have a good look at the back of a patrol car next time you're stopp

    • It would be rather like a pacman game, you see the copper coming and run the other way. Although if the display is good enough and you can see if they are coloured red or orange you would know if you need to flee.
    • doesn't need doing, theres some parts where the police entering an estate is notified to certain interested residents automatically

    • Negative 700 days -- search for "iPhone" -- then download Trapster.

    • what you need:

      1. ability to eavesdrop on digital communication traffic, including relay-mode from one handset through another to the base station.
      2. ability to decrypt IDEA or AES128 encrypted traffic
      3. ability to keep it quiet from the cops, and military (who also use TETRA communications).

      even if you get a handset, you'll still need to be part of the right keygroup

    • by daybot ( 911557 ) *

      I'm starting a pool on how soon devices that show you the nearest cops will be sold on eBay.
      Who needs radar detectors if you have a live map with all cops clearly marked??

      I'm already working on the iPhone app...

  • Pfft (Score:5, Funny)

    by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @02:14AM (#27528473)
    They already tried the system in Australia, but it failed because most people didn't want to dial 666 even if their life depended on it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by studpuppy ( 624228 )
      Here in the states, they've been very careful to describe emergency and non-emergency numbers as "nine-one-one" and "three-one-one". This way, no one is looking for the "eleven" key on their phones.


      Brought to you by the same folks who created the "any" key

    • Thats why everybody should use 000. It works upside down too.
  • by migla ( 1099771 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @02:18AM (#27528491)

    Hopefully also useful for letting people know who was clobbering them.

  • Wazza matter? They don't know how to use Google maps to pinpoint the closest Dunkin' Donuts and just start looking for cop there like everyone here in NJ does?


    Yeah, I know it's a cliche. Actually, our local cops are at the diner, not the donut shop. But diners are a regional thing. Donut shops are pretty much worldwide.

  • ...'til it's used to check whether the police is actually doing their job instead of sitting in the donut shops (or whatever equivalent the police wastes time in the UK)?

  • by TechwoIf ( 1004763 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @03:26AM (#27528765) Homepage
    *grumbles* What did we do to deserve this? --Techwolf
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @03:39AM (#27528823)

    This technology would destroy the plots of old TV shows like this: []. Hollywood would condemn it.

    But we're all too young to have ever seen that TV show . . . aren't we?

    On the other hand Hollywood celebrities might like the technology if someone could build scanners that spot police cars. If you read [], you would know that those wacky celebrities always manage to bump into a cop while buying drugs, soliciting teenage whores, beating their spouses, etc.

  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @04:21AM (#27528975)
    Using the metric of 'how fast police get somewhere' to determine the quality of their service is asking for trouble. In fact, its asking for police to do shit like this: []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 10, 2009 @05:18AM (#27529169)

    I'm a serving Metropolitan (London) police officer and I think this is a great idea.

    We've had tracking on our vehicles for a while now. It gives our supervisors/control room an accurate (as in, technology from 10 years ago accurate) image of our position. Apart from increasing efficiency when allocating calls based on distance and travel time, it's main use is for officer safety. If I push the little red button on my airwaves radio and, for whatever ever reason, I am unable to speak, the control room can dispatch units to my vehicles location.

    Foot chases and 'hail downs' can mean I'm a long distance from my vehicle, or if I'm in a anti police estate and not at the location of my last call officers will have trouble locating me. The individual radio locater will be able to prevent this, and increase my personal safety and the safety of my fellow officers.

    Of course, members of the public will only see this as a regulatory tool, because all officers hate their job and spend their time at Crispy Creme scoffing donuts. I don't think I've had a day shift so far when I'm not busting my ass for the full 12 hours; dealing with emotional/violent/mentally unstable people, dealing with legal problems and keeping up with a mountain of written work.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Not all U.S. officers will welcome this, for various reasons. You Brits have taken a great deal more observation in stride over the years, while we Yanks have railed against it.

      When our tracking/automated dispatch system was installed on the ambulances, only a few people took serious exception to the system. Mainly it was because they were:
      a) sneaking the truck out of district and really didn't want dispatch to know where they were, or
      b) so invested in the district system that they didn't want to see
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What a non story. The TETRA radios that all emergency services personnel have in the UK all have ARL capabilities. What this REALLY means is that Airwave (the company that runs the TETRA system) is finally allowing this ARL to be emitted. In Norfolk. A rural county with not many TETRA radios in it. Not much control channel contention then.

    The REAL news will be when they (officially) switch it on for London. Then we will see whether the TETRA system can cope or not.

    BTW, you can't track the ARL as the SDSes

  • That's not very scalable. :)
  • Living in Norwich, I found it extremely amusing that the only Doughnut shop listed from the above search on googlemaps,is in, wait for it,Wymondham! For those not in the know, the Norfolk Constabulary HQ is in, yep, you guessed it - Wymondham!! [] []
  • by blackest_k ( 761565 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @08:43AM (#27530051) Homepage Journal

    One big problem faced around the world is actually identifying where something is. Addresses postcodes / zipcodes are not perfect they are quirky and arbitrary and worst of all usually require some form of license to use. Knowing the GPS Latitude and Longitude you can pinpoint anywhere on the planet. but they are hard to remember, if you know them at all.

    There are some systems available that can solve this some are patented or otherwise closed to free use. [] is an open system which encodes a latitude and longitude to a base 32 number (which is just an alphanumeric string). The longer the String the more precise the location is.
    An unfortunate drawback is the length of the code is perhaps a little too long to remember easily and be useful.

      However a shorter code could be used based on look up tables. kind of similar to [] you could define an area by the bounding box its contained within. If your within the USA for example you wouldnt need to find the approximate location of the USA since thats already known the bounding area would be defined by a bounding box of the nearest whole degree or a smaller fraction that completely encloses the area of interest. If the USA was still too large an area you could define an area such as california defining the bounding box as the latitudes and longitudes that completely enclose California a Neighboring state would use a similar bounding box which would overlap to a certain extent but it doesnt really matter that a place could be enclosed in two or more bounding boxes since you would use the one defined for your state. probably there is no need to define the bounding box greater than .01 of a degree and generally 0.1 degrees would be close enough.

    This would then shorten the code to something most people can remember and keep it free since this concept is derived from the geohash algorithm I would expect it to be free to use by anyone who wishes to use it without payment.


  • Am I the only one who looked at this article and though of this []?

    Now we'll always know where Car 54 is.
  • In Portugal all cars will be tagged... :(

  • []

    That hent got no front wheels, that hent.

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