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Mobile Data Terminals: Past, Present and Future (From Computerization in the Management of the Criminal Justice System: Proceedings of the Workshop and the Symposium on Computerization of Criminal Justice Information at the Ninth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment o

NCJ Number
D M Monopoli
Date Published
6 pages
Mobile data technology is increasingly used in local, regional, and national police agencies.
The first experiences with mobile data technology in law enforcement date back to the early 1980's. An initial project involved the downloading of dispatch messages directly to the vehicle, direct inquiry into State and Federal databases, simultaneous inquiry into a local intelligence data file maintained by the local police agency, and several other functions. In 1988 a police agency introduced the use of notebook computers as mobile data terminals to permit the use of mapping and automatic vehicle location. Sufficient satellites has been launched by 1991 to permit the use of the global positioning satellite network in automatic vehicle location. A statewide mobile data network with the capacity of 5,000 devices began in 1992. The current trend in mobile computing involves the use of pen technology to enable officers to complete incident and accident reports in the field using full-function computers. The use of voice input at a command level is expected soon, and voice dictation technology is now 95 percent accurate at a dictation rate above 70 words per minute. Digital cameras are also currently available that will integrate with notebook and pen-based computers and allow the attachment of photo images to incident or accident reports in the field. Police officers of the future will probably be able to use a combination of technologies to handle diverse tasks.