San Francisco police unveiled an ambitious plan Monday to eventually equip patrol officers with mobile devices that will allow them to remotely file police reports and access case information without having to return to the station.
About 60 new cadets will be the first to test the system, with laptops donated by Hewlett-Packard. The private sf.citi partnership between local tech companies and The City, forged by Mayor Ed Lee and Silicon Valley tech investor Ron Conway, has donated $100,000 to the pilot project.
For a Police Department that only last year finally secured a departmentwide email system, Chief Greg Suhr was excited about the new technology, which he said would give officers about three to fours more hours a day on the streets. That time is typically spent traveling back to the police station to file reports.
While cadets will initially only be able to access the department’s new online crime database, a computer app being developed by ArcTouch will allow officers to file reports from the field, share real-time information about ongoing investigations, and do keyword searches to match suspect information with earlier reports.
“To make it simple,” Suhr told reporters, “this is, in fact, the Batcomputer.”
Use of the app is still an estimated six months away. And while private companies have footed the initial bill, the costs of eventually equipping the department’s 1,300 officers on patrol with computers or handheld mobile devices are uncertain. Suhr said he hoped to be able to accomplish that within five years.