BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is claiming that police forces in the UK are saving £122 million a year, thanks to the use of its platform
In these straightened ecomonic times, Research in Motion is making bold claims as to the cost savings that police forces in the UK are achieving, thanks to the use of its BlackBerry platform.
RIM said that across the UK, police forces using the BlackBerry platform are collectively making savings of over £112 million per year. This significant figure is based on the average savings per police officer (provided by individual forces), multiplied by number of BlackBerry devices in use in the UK police force.
Speaking to eWEEK Europe UK, Rory O'Neill, Senior Director, Business Marketing (EMEA) at RIM, pointed out that one in six police officers in the UK carry a BlackBerry, and that 44 out the 56 different police forces in the UK use BlackBerry technology and applications.
He explained that BlackBerry smartphones are now being increasingly used by the police to increase productivity amongst officers, enabling them to spend more time on the streets and less time in the station. Officers use the handsets to access and update records whilst on the move, or to take pictures to make an instant record of a crime scene or suspect.
"For example, we have worked with Bedfordshire Police for four years now," said O'Neill (left). He explained how they needed a mobile data solution that could provide everyday police data from the Police National Computer (PNC) to officers on the street, without the need to occupy the radio network or take up the time of its operators.
RIM cited an independent study that showed this project had increased the efficiency of the force: 82 percent of officers thought that the BlackBerry solution assisted them in doing their job and 75 percent said that it would matter to them if the force took away their BlackBerry smartphone. In fact the force experienced a 10 percent increase in the time officers spent patrolling the streets.
"There are now a staggering array of applications that enable police forces to do innovative things," said O'Neill. "The police are able to spend more time on the street, and less in the police station. We have created applications that access back-end systems that can perform administrative tasks out on the street. One of the reasons why the police work with BlackBerry is because of the security model."
"Security and the privacy of data is becoming more and more important," said O'Neill. "Getting mobile data out to mobile handsets in a secure way is increasingly important." He cited how police use their handsets now for reporting purposes, for stop and search, assessing records such as warrant information, and even connecting to the DVLA.
"It varies from police force to police force as to its particular use," he said, "but the customised applications on the BlackBerry give the police very specific functionality, providing them with access to data when they actual need it, rather than travel back to the station."
Of course, the security aspect of RIM's smartphones has created problems for the company, after a number of governments including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, India etc threatened to ban certain functions of BlackBerry handsets, due to concerns that its strong encryption protocols was endangering national security or local laws.
"BlackBerry is the only mobile platform approved by CESG (the information assurance arm of GCHQ), and this is one of the selling points for not only public institutions, but also for private organisations."
And what about the potential use of RIM's newly announced PlayBook tablet? Does RIM envisage its rollout to the police in the near future?
"What is great about the PlayBook is that it is the first high performance tablet and comes with advanced the security features, out-of-the-box, that you associate with the BlackBerry handsets," said O'Neill. "We are going to be working with all sectors to see how our tablet can work with their solutions
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