By Kevin Aries, Leader, Product Management, Product Success
Police fleets—and the officers behind the wheel of patrol vehicles—often face a level of danger that goes above and beyond that of the average motorist. Technology and data play an important role in both modernizing police fleets and helping keep officers (and citizens) safer. Knowing this, here are some of the current trends and challenges in the police fleet space, and a look at how the right next-generation GPS tracking technology can help.
For police fleets, driving safety takes priority
The nature of their work means officers can face situations that require them to drive more aggressively than others on the road, whether accelerating to catch up to a speeding motorist, responding to reports of a fleeing felon or urgently trying to reach the scene of an emergency (car accident, fire, public disturbance, etc.).
An added risk is that being behind the wheel of a police vehicle inherently means having to multitask. Answering dispatcher calls, typing names, license plate numbers or other search queries on dash- or front-seat-mounted laptops and keeping track of speeding vehicles or other disturbances in their vicinity are just a few of the responsibilities police officers must contend with in addition to the “usual” responsibilities of driving their vehicle.
Due to the increased wear and tear from increased driving hours and aggressive driving, vehicle maintenance plays a crucial role in fleet – and driver – safety. Budget-strapped police forces must get the maximum number of miles and service out of each patrol car, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of those operating the vehicles (often at high speeds). Police cars must be safe to operate, and that’s where diagnostics comes in. The ability to proactively keep track of both routine maintenance and unexpected issues help ensure that trouble codes associated with each vehicle are addressed.
Integrating the right GPS tracking system – with features that include everything from vehicle diagnostics and maintenance schedule adherence to keeping track of crime within a certain geographic area – can help take the burden off police officers. 1 And the benefits of integrating fleet tracking software into patrol cars and other police vehicles don’t stop there. This technology can also help:
- Enable police forces to gather data that monitors driver performance and better supports safer driving.
- Enable police forces to maintain a comprehensive view of the state of each vehicle to know its maintenance status, helping to support officer’s driving safety and extend the life of the fleet.
- Increase fleet visibility with a full 360-degree view of daily operations.
- Access high-resolution maps with smart clustering detail on demand to get a near real-time activity view and current status of all vehicles and officers.
- Take stock of how vehicles are being used – and better fleet visibility can help improve asset utilization, which can translate to getting more done with fewer resources.
- Enable around-the-clock monitoring to better manage unsafe driving behavior, unauthorized use or deviations from standard driving routes and set up early warning systems to help prevent
A connected network of police cars
Police fleet vehicles are essentially standard consumer trucks and cars customized to handle the demands of police work – and the enhanced connectivity hitting mass market vehicles has likewise made its way to police transports. With built-in WiFi (4G and even 5G) set to become standard on most cars and trucks in the next few years, increasingly, vehicles will act workplaces and mobile hotspots on wheels as well as modes of transportation.
This is a great development for police fleets, as officers can connect in-vehicle systems with other agencies to simplify data access and promote near real-time data review and exchange. In addition, having a connected in-vehicle network enables the ability to build displays right into the car, which connect to a computer in the trunk, versus having a standalone laptop take up space in the front seat, distracting drivers and becoming a potential danger/projectile should the vehicle be involved in an accident.
Future-focused fleet features
Looking to the future, there are a number of ongoing tech-enabled improvements on the horizon for patrol cars and police fleets, including:
- More powerful motors with built-in internet connectivity for added behavioral insight, allowing cars to be tuned in near real time and enabling better fuel efficiency and performance.
- More hybrid engines, which switch to battery mode to save gas when idling (which police cars do often).
- Semi-autonomous vehicles/systems to increase driver safety, especially while using the radio or computer.
- Greater safety features such as ambush warning systems.
- Advanced, integrated facial recognition and AI dashcam technology to spot suspects, identify vehicles (even if the license plate isn’t visible) and even recognize weapons in near real-time.
- Semi- or, eventually, even fully-autonomous vehicles. For example, last year, Ford published a patent detailing a plan for self-driving police cars that will, among other things, issue speeding cars tickets via wireless communication. “The patent argues that the deployment of self-driving cars can free up police officers for more difficult tasks that can’t be automated,” according to Motor Trend.
Learn more about how your organization can safeguard the brave men and women who put their lives on the line for our communities now and well into the future by visiting verizonconnect.com.
About the Author
Kevin Aries leads Global Product Success for Verizon Connect, helping build software solutions that optimize the way people, vehicles and things move through the world. Working predominantly with field service businesses, Kevin spends his time understanding the problems and solutions of the service industry to improve customer experience.
Public safety fleets must prepare for a digital future