Public safety and security provide significant growth opportunities for the location industry, in applications ranging from criminal surveillance to emergency response. But not all location solutions are alike, and some work better than others in powering the next-generation efforts of law enforcement and private security organizations. The two technologies most in use today are:
· Global Positioning System-based location systems. These require GPS receiver chipsets to be included in the caller’s mobile device. GPS solutions take relatively longer to locate a target resulting in possible life-threatening situations for emergency callers. GPS solutions work well in direct line-of-sight conditions with the satellites, such as suburban and rural areas, but are challenged in dense urban areas and indoor environments where most calls originate.
· RF Pattern Matching [RFPM] is a network-based positioning method based on radio-link measurements collected from the network, using the device’s own radio signals to identify its location and eliminate any dependency on satellites or other hardware. RFPM is able to locate all callers across any air interface and in any environment, eliminating limitations related to the phone type or network technology. RFPM works extremely well in non line-of-sight conditions, such as dense urban and indoor environments, and is highly reliable for mission-critical applications.
As high-accuracy wireless location solutions become increasingly prevalent in public safety applications, law enforcement organizations are finding new and creative uses:
· Gunshot detection. As profiled in a recent 60 Minutes episode, the Springfield, Mass., police department deployed a location-based application called ShotSpotter that detects the sources of gunshots using acoustic measurements, detecting over 4,000 gunshots in the first two years it was deployed, leading to more than 25 arrests.
· Augmented reality. Imagine an officer approaching a suspect location. By using location technology interfacing with court and police records that have been geo-tagged, the officer can instantly access all outstanding warrants, arrest records of persons living there, and other useful information to better assess the situation before he enters the building.
· Facial recognition. An officer can photograph a suspect in the field under surveillance and upload the photo to headquarters where it is instantly analyzed. The suspect identification and related information (criminal record, arrest warrants, known associates) is then relayed back to the officer, providing a real-time snapshot of the suspect and better equipping the officer.
· License plate reader. When tailing a suspect vehicle, an officer can scan license plates and check against a database to determine if the car is stolen, has been used in a crime, belongs to a crime suspect, etc. The location application can also alert other officers in the area if backup is required and determine the most optimal routes to intercept the suspect vehicle.
· Crime heat maps. Location technology can be used to create crime “heat maps” based on public safety statistics to identify concentrations of various types of crime, such as auto theft and burglary, and respond accordingly. The officer will be alerted when he has crossed a virtual geo-fence into such a hotspot so that the officer can prepare and respond. Similarly, headquarters can filter and analyze geo-tagged events such as arrests, 911 calls and more to determine patterns and better allocate resources.
Location-enabled solutions for security applications help protect the public and law enforcement officers, and they are cost effective, often resulting in smarter use of resources. Most importantly, high-accuracy wireless location technology gives public safety organizations an advantage over criminals and opens new doors to more advanced applications in the future.
Bhavin Shah leads the Marketing and Business Development activities for Polaris Wireless. He can be reached at: (408) 492-8900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.