Evening all, we’re mobile

London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has 620 square miles of capital city to look after and this is done by 31,000 uniformed staff, 13,600 police staff, over 414 traffic wardens and around 2,000 police community support officers.

In response to the scale of the challenge, The Met – already a significant user of IT – has implemented one of Europe’s largest mobile data applications, a system that provides in-car access so that patrolling officers now have live access to information only previously available through The Met control rooms or back at the station. Mobile data terminal (MDT) technology has now been rolled out to over 1,500 vehicle response units across The Met’s 32 London borough response areas.

"We wanted to empower officers out in the field with the information they need at their fingertips"

Shaun O’Neill, The Met’s MDT business change manager


By the same token, those ‘back-office’ staff now have access to response vehicles’ precise locations via global positioning systems (GPS) based mapping software, delivering more accurate data on patrol officers’ availability and resources to better respond to incidents. This should ensure that the right unit is deployed to the right place at the right time. Data transmitted by MDT is also encrypted to provide extra security for sensitive police information.

Bobbies now have remote access in their cars to the Police National Computer (PNC), Computer Aided Despatch (CAD) messages, in-car mapping, Quick Address for address checks, a text messaging service and patrol supervisory functions giving patrol supervisors additional capacity to manage their response resources. Access to these services has freed up radio airtime and released latent demand, especially for the PNC.

“We were looking to free up control room time through officers having remote access to information and data sources,” says Superintendent Shaun O’Neill, The Met’s MDT business change manager and the senior police officer sponsor of the project. “We wanted to empower officers out in the field by providing them with the information they need at their fingertips, with no need to contact the control rooms. There was also a requirement for a more efficient resource location system to assist deploying officers in the field.”

The Met decided to opt for mobile software. “MDTs were seen as giving us the most effective and efficient solution for our business requirements,” he says. The project was started quite some time ago – October 1999 – with preliminary research into appropriate solutions. There was a two-year trial of the MDT product from 2000, with a full rollout commencing in October 2003 and completed in January 2005.