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Impact of Mobile Broadband Data Access on Police Operations: An Exploratory Case Study of One Medium-Sized Municipal Police Department, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2014
192 pages
This study examined the impact of dedicated mobile broadband technology on the operations of a medium-sized municipal police department (Brookline Massachusetts Police Department), provides guidance for implementation and practice within the field, and establishes an empirical foundation for mobile broadband and large bandwidth digital communications research.
As used in this study, "mobility" refers to "an inherent ability to move about," and "mobile computing" is a generic term that refers to the functional capabilities possible for end users as they complete tasks from various physical locations. "Broadband" refers to the relatively wide bandwidth characteristics of the wireless transmission medium and its corresponding ability to support multiple users and/or transport suitable quantities of data. "Mobile broadband" is used as a generic term to collectively refer to both terms in the context of the aggregate capabilities made possible through their use compared to other available mobile solutions and/or data. This study notes the lack of public-safety access to wireless broadband data, given resource limitations and a lack of independent evidence that would justify procurement of such technologies for police work. The current study's deployment and assessment of this technology involved its use by the Brookline Police Department (BPD). Overall, the semi-structured interviews suggest that the wireless broadband technology was implemented with minimal difficulties and produced a number of perceived benefits for the BPD. The most direct benefit was the ease with which departmental technologies could be managed. Additional benefits were associated with increased access to timely information, increased information flow, and increased quality of reports. Structured interviews indicated that a few weeks of training sessions and ongoing informal bulletin and email disseminations were needed to overcome skepticism about the transition to wireless broadband. Most of the uniform personnel did not oppose the implementation nor did they perceive that the department was opposed to the transition. 39 tables, 3 figures, 93 references, and appended methodological details and supplementary data

Date Published: February 1, 2014