Yep, let's ignore the fact that defence and law and order have different (and very stretched) budgets and just start another whinge thread about how the nasty people at Land have decided not to pay the TA...
Around the world police departments use wireless technology from laptops in vehicles to PDAs; sooner or later our police have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century as well.
The Police were sold a lemon with Airwave. They have to pay for each time a mast is pinged by a call. The system works by pinging every mast along the way . One call from a southern Force on Mutual Aid oop North between two vans next to each otehr pinged every mast back to the home County and back again, cost hundreds of pounds and took about 8 secs!
The facility to point to point from radio to radio to save airtime can only be used when no-one is talking, bit pointless really.
The mobile Data project is a Govt propaganda stunt. They want specific numbers of devices in service, not necessarily useful ones. Hence to make numbers up, Forces are having to spend on Blackberries when they would rather spend more on data terminals in vehicles which wouldbe of use and get people out of Stations.
Don't blame the Plod, the Govt set the budget and the targets to be able to pretend to Joe Public that they are achieving!
Compared to the NHS "connecting for health" program or whatever they called it last week, its nothing. About 9 billion was spent on IT projects for the NHS of which very very few have actually entered service, and those that have are so crap that they are almost useless.
Its even worse, the NHS essential data spine collects medical data that can be accessed by police, customs and excise and other agencies if you dont opt out. If you try to opt out you have to go through a very complex process with no assurance that you are not included anyway.
I thought I was pretty good at Techy stuff, comms etc, got my advanced sigs when in the Regs, then we got Airwaves!!!!! Fook me after the initial 2 hour input I didn't have a fookin clue what they were talking about.... Even now as we migrate to Airwaves 2 I can just about make a call and point to point. the handset has some flash menu and features that are utterley baffling. Complete waste of money on an overcomplicated system....
I have a bit of familiarity with similar systems on the western side of the pond. The systems that use cell carriers or similar end up paying a lot more than a data terminal with the signal carried "in house" . In my city we have our own trunked radio system on the 800MHz band and the data terminals utilize that. We also save by connecting all servers, radio transmitters, routers in all city buildings with city owned fibre optic cables. The system is what you might call the dogs bollocks. The transmitters are on top of two publicly owned buildings and one university owned building. The university cheerfully donates the space as they know they are will get top of the line restoration in case of power failure and we let the university police piggyback on our system. We had interoperability years before September 11th made it a buzzword due to the cluster in NYC.
In short, paying the cash up front is far more cost effective than paying less up front and paying to use someone else's network. My walkie works anywhere in the city including the deepest subway stations.
PS we even saved by having city employees install all the fibre optic instead of using a contractor. For years we made phone co, cable co, etc install extra space for city cable in all conduits they installed in the city. It paid off big time.
PPS No, I'm not the person who dreamed the system up. Someone else did that and our city manager had the brains to approve spending the money on it. They certainly have my respect though.
Blackberry's are useless for the task they claim to serve. They are only used to any level by PCSO's and Beat Managers when they occasionally put down the mug of tea and venture outside. Most cops use them as mobiles and to check emails from home for possible overtime offers and that's it. The feedback from the trials was blatant lies as the cops on the trials all slated them but the feedback was all very positive - more than one career was given a boost on the back of those lies! (and that's not cynicism, i was involved in the initial trials!) Most of the packages aren't even set up to work on the Blackberys yet, so how they can claim success I don't know! Even when this is sorted they will still be useless as asking cops to do their actual workload on them is like asking someone to write war and peace on a mobile phone under water.
The cut in time in the station will also be a fix. Supervisors backing the scheme telling cops to go out and do their paperwork on the street and not accepting no as an answer. Cops still have to do the paperwork, 99% of which can't be done on a Blackberry so they go and hide in a different nick/room and Sgt gets to tick the box saying they are out. Sgts or Insp's only endorse the project because it is good for their careers, or because they are so detached from the role of a modern day PC that they can't see why it wont work.
Data terminals/toughbooks would be a real advancement, the possibility of being able to type and print statements, carry out photoviewings, access all the systems and update them would actually extend most cops time on the street by a real percentage, for not much extra cost either as you would be fitting a unit per car, rather than per cop. Obviously this path was not going to further someone's career enough for it to happen.
My blackberry ran out of charge about a month ago, I've forgotten to charge it since then and I am yet to be inconvenienced by this - proof that it's useless!
The whole Airwave business case was predicated on the ability of TETRA to transmit data, despite the fact that only the predecessor to the self licking lolly pop that is the NPIA believed this fallacy.
So we contracted for the most expensive radio system in the whole of history, it no surprise that there was a quick rebranding to bring the NPIA into being. We are effectively spending every year what it would cost to provide a single trunked national radio system. This has been compounded by forcing the fire service to use this system.
So now the Police decide they want data and we end up with this Mickey Mouse solution, but its only tax payers money so who cares?
The fundamental issue in all this is the complete and utter lack of financial control; I have resisted using the word budget as that implies control.
I thought Airwave was in fact the cure for cancer and would be able to 'do data'
As usual we went with an untried system because ETSI decided TETRA was the best standard instead of TETRAPOL which has and continues to be proven, secure, low cost (much fewer base stations) and capable of reasonable data transport rates
The cut in time in the station will also be a fix. Supervisors backing the scheme telling cops to go out and do their paperwork on the street and not accepting no as an answer. Cops still have to do the paperwork, 99% of which can't be done on a Blackberry so they go and hide in a different nick/roomand Sgt gets to tick the box saying they are out. Sgts or Insp's only endorse the project because it is good for their careers, or because they are so detached from the role of a modern day PC that they can't see why it wont work.
My Bold, We quite often have three or four Bobbies in our canteen doing Paperwork, they turn up with reams of Paper to sort.
Exactly so some one else can tick the box as stated that they are out the office. Farcical state of affairs.