RealTime IT News

Handheld Crime Fighting

Police officers use dash-mounted laptops in cruisers to access criminal databases. But what if they're patrolling on foot, bike or horse? A telecom giant and a mobile software specialist think they have the answer.

Cingular and BIO-key International have launched a service that lets officials check vehicle information, stolen vehicle reports, weapon registrations and outstanding warrants through RIM's Blackberry device or through Pocket PC-powered PDAs. They also can send text messages and e-mail for inconspicuous communications with dispatchers.

"Public safety has a need for quick and reliable communications to get access to critical information," John Kampfe, a Cingular spokesman, told internetnews.com.

The U.S. Capitol Police, Federal Protective Services and Oklahoma County Sheriff Office are already using the joint offering, which costs $44.99 per month per user, plus a software license fee, Kampfe said.

He declined to estimate the total number of officers using the service. A BIO-key spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

The service uses Cingular's nationwide wireless data network and BIO-Key's PocketCOP software. In addition to interoperability with databases and computer systems, the partners paid close attention to security.

PocketCOP features end-to-end encryption, user ID, password and device authentication at log-on, plus audit trail via log server to monitor the use of the device. Cingular's network also includes encryption with authentication protocols.

Cingular, a joint venture between BellSouth and SBC Communications , is the nation's largest wireless operator.

The Atlanta-based company said it has several corporate customers in the public safety sector, including the Missouri Highway Patrol, Honolulu Police Department and MassPort, an independent authority that manages Boston's Logan International Airport and the Port of Boston.

BIO-key, of Wall, N.J., is heavily involved with law enforcement. In addition to PocketCOP, it sells biometric finger identification technology to authenticate users of wireless and enterprise data services.