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New Zealand Frontline Police Get Apple Devices in Efficiency Measure

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the spend-money-to-save-money dept.

Iphone 114

mask.of.sanity writes "Thousands of New Zealand frontline police will be armed with smartphones and tablets from this year in an efficiency initiative that the force hopes will save millions of dollars. NZ Police say the devices are Apple iPhones and iPads. These will be password protected and can be wiped remotely if lost. Police declined to say if the devices and their communications will be encrypted."

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Setting up for iFailure (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42883603)

nice SPOF Apple is setting up, hack Apple and get the keys to every castle in every land !

Re:Setting up for iFailure (1, Interesting)

david.emery (127135) | about a year and a half ago | (#42883751)

And how is this different from the zillions of successful hacks against the dominant Windows world for laptops, or Android world for smartphones? Both of those platforms, widely used, have been successfully hacked.

Seems to me the absence of successful hacks against iOS (given the millions of iPhones/iPads out there) is in many respects prima-facie evidence that it's actualy a hard (harder) platform to hack. The same argument, but with lesser market share, can be made for Mac OS X products.

dave

Re:Setting up for iFailure (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42883785)

more fud and whisper campaigns... but the thing the GP doesn't understand, when a large entity makes a big purchase like this, they do a long procurement process looking at all options. so your fud may convince a mom to buy samsung at att, but when examined closely, it doesn't hold up well in the harsh light of scrutiny.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42888879)

Large entity? It's the New Zealand police. The only reason there's two of them is that the Cook Strait is a bugger to swim across.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42883899)

Macs are easy to hack as long as they have firewire or thunderbolt. Here is a tool: http://www.breaknenter.org/projects/inception/ [breaknenter.org]

Re:Setting up for iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884071)

uh, well of *course* you can hack into a mac by using its physical ports. if you have physical access to ANY computer it will be pretty easy to get into. don't think anyone would argue with that.

it's just ... not really something to worry much about.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884301)

So what you're saying that police, who are regularly in dangerous and physical situations will NEVER drop their device, nor criminals will NEVER get their hands on one?

It's not something to worry much about for you and I, but police...

Re:Setting up for iFailure (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884895)

So what you're saying that police, who are regularly in dangerous and physical situations will NEVER drop their device, nor criminals will NEVER get their hands on one?

Not one with thunderbolt OR firewire, neither of which iOS devices have.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (1, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884501)

Nice troll.

First, the very tool you link says it can attack machines running Windows, OS X, or Linux.

Second, here's the "mitigation" section from your link:

Attack mitigation
To stay safe and protect against FireWire DMA attacks, here’s a couple of suggestions:

Windows
* Block the SBP-2 driver
* Remove FireWire drivers from your system if you don’t need to use FireWire
OS X
* Don’t panic – if you are using FileVault2 and OS X Lion (10.7.2) and higher, the OS will automatically turn off DMA when locked – you’re still vulnerable to attacks when unlocked, though
* Set a firmware password
Linux
* Disable DMA or remove the 1394 drivers (see the ‘Mitigation: Linux’ section)

On a Mac, the normal steps to protect your machine from unauthorized access (even just setting a firmware password) also blocks the attack vector.
And on Windows or Linux, you have to manually break Firewire and Thunderbolt entirely to work around the problem.

Macs do have security flaws, but this is about the worst example you could possibly give.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42883919)

Android devices can be updated regularly, and are. The only, ONLY time you see stories about malware viruses and other crap like that, for both iOS and Android, is when people install apps from untrusted sources.

Some people shouldn't be allowed on the roads, when they can signal only one direction their whole life.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (3, Interesting)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884111)

So let us know when all the Android devices being sold in China running gingerbread can be updated.
Or any trusted source in China to install from.

And please point out one malware virus on iOS.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884333)

Charlie Miller's stock ticker command-and-control app.

(Remember, he came out with the story, and that's the only reason he was ever discovered and ejected from the store. Imagine the malware writers who saw the story and knew it was easier to get pass the reviewers than people like you think it is.)

Re:Setting up for iFailure (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884493)

Good point.

But that wasn't actually a malware virus. It was a proof of concept.

Unlike the hundreds of in-the-wild viruses on Android.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (1)

a_claudiu (814111) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884717)

Unlike the hundreds of in-the-wild viruses on Android.

Citation needed? Further clarification, Google play or something else?

Re:Setting up for iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884543)

Oh, and don't buy shady Android devices in China? If I bought a shady i device in China, I rest assured that I won't be getting updates either.

The Galaxy Note and S series devices are being updated in a reasonable manner (considering they bring so much more to the table than stock Android, it will take a couple months for testing and development) that your comment smells of ignorance and stupidity.

Much like the NZ purchasing department (and the company I'm with. They have a Windows based CRM that won't run on anything else asides from IE, but our presentation software will ONLY be on an i-device, making us lug around two different devices. Who the hell does that?) Who the hell gives devices that shatter if dropped on pavement to people who are active and in potentially destructive situations? There's ruggedized devices for this, like the Rugby series from Samsung.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884869)

Really? Where can you get official updates in China? At all, much less in a timely manner.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (4, Informative)

neonv (803374) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885545)

There's always malware on any operating system, including IOS. While Apple does a good job at preventing it, they can't prevent it 100% of the time. Here are a few articles talking about malware on iOS for those who think it doesn't exist.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/adriankingsleyhughes/2012/07/06/first-ios-malware-hits-app-store/ [forbes.com]
http://thenextweb.com/mobile/2012/08/29/finfisher-malware-goes-mobile-infects-android-iphone-blackberry/ [thenextweb.com]
http://www.redmondpie.com/another-malware-app-sneaks-into-ios-app-store/ [redmondpie.com]
http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/238101/scitech/hacker-reveals-ios-malware-vulnerability-gets-punished [gmanetwork.com]
http://www.techpluto.com/ios-malware/ [techpluto.com]

Re:Setting up for iFailure (4, Informative)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42887345)

Number of malware that came through the App Store - ie non-jailbroken phones - One.

Charlie Fisher's proof of concept. Which wasn't actual malware.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42888207)

Number of malware that came through the App Store - ie non-jailbroken phones - One- that was self-disclosed,

Charlie Fisher's proof of concept. Which wasn't actual malware.

So how about the number of malware that wasn't self-disclosed? You know, the "mal" kind?

Re:Setting up for iFailure (-1, Troll)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42888313)

Can you actually name one? You know, in the wild, on the App store?

If not, you're just a whiny little bitch.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (2)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884175)

Android devices can be updated regularly, and are. The only, ONLY time you see stories about malware viruses and other crap like that, for both iOS and Android, is when people install apps from untrusted sources.

Bullshit, there have been plenty of reports of malware in the google play store, and malware infections from web surfing.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (3, Funny)

theVarangian (1948970) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884187)

And how is this different from the zillions of successful hacks against the dominant Windows world for laptops, or Android world for smartphones?

Becasue by using Apple devices you join the Sith....

Re:Setting up for iFailure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885541)

Pah, in New Zealand you join Sauron.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884279)

Harder to hack?

You realize any device with root or "jailbreak" has already been hacked, right? That's a privilege escalation hack (you do not have administrator access on these devices, period).

Besides, there have been at least one successful AND publicized hack by Charlie Miller, so get your facts straight. Do remember, the only reason that this hack even came to light is because Charlie actually came out and said so. Imagine the millions of users blindly accepting facts as you have, while running around with a compromised device -- all because nobody was looking.

Re:Setting up for iFailure (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885529)

you do realize that every jailbreak is a successful "hack" right? hell, you used to be able to visit a website on your iDevice, click on a button and *presto*, instant pwnage. fanboi much?

http://www.pcworld.com/article/202335/iPhone_Jailbreaking_is_a_snap_thanks_to_New_Website.html [pcworld.com]

Save millions... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42883637)

By buying a ton of most expensive hardware you can find.... brilliant.

Re:Save millions... (1, Interesting)

david.emery (127135) | about a year and a half ago | (#42883777)

It's all about the software, including iOS security (see my previous post on this thread.) And the Apple hardware isn't that much more expensive -for similar devices-.

Re:Save millions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42883879)

Apple has really settled well into the role left by Black Berry.

Re:Save millions... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884199)

It has nothing to do with security. They want a consistent product across the board. If they were still using Windows XP laptops mounted on an arm in the car like 95% of police departments in the US have, they could have the same level of data security relatively cheap if they wanted it. They may or may not have chosen to make them secure but that was their own bueacracy at work.

Re:Save millions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884659)

It IS more expensive for similar devices...

Have you seen the Nexus 10? Better in most regards (all?), has more hardware (NFC, barometer) and is like $100-200 cheaper than even the mini i device.

This is ignoring the fact that if you wait a couple of months for most devices, they usually drop in price due to more efficient manufacturing, etc.

Add to this: you drop any of the glass backed devices onto pavement, and BAM, shattered glass backing dangerous to hold. You drop any of the non-glass backed devices? You get chip or a dent.

Seems like someone's trying to justify their overpriced purchases.

Better in no ways (2, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884955)

Better in most regards (all?),

It has much less software, and a worse screen.

NFC and a "barometer" are useless to police.

And what about support? Apple has extensive worldwide support. Can you honestly say the same for Google hardware (hint: NO).

You are just not thinking about the total package here.

Re:Better in no ways (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885781)

Wow, you are grasping at straws here man. A local police department does not care about worldwide support. They are not worldwide, they need support where they are right now and they can get that from any number of different companies. Aside from that. Many companies have worldwide support but they have different SKU, policies, and warranties depending on what country the device was sold. Try to get HP tp replace a 600GB SATA drive in an HP DL380 you purchased in the US that is now housed in the UK. It is not going to happen. A big assumption here but I think almost every company is like this. That is why you have contracts and local support in that country or.. the company itself handles it for you by contacting their arm of the local country.

Re:Better in no ways (1)

White Flame (1074973) | about a year and a half ago | (#42887343)

It has much less software, and a worse screen.

Deployments like this tend to lock out all software but what's been specifically written to be deployed for the police. The consumer ecosystem is irrelevant.

In what way is the screen worse? The Nexus resolution is better, the brightness, colors, and viewing angles are good in all top-brand models, not just these.

NFC and a "barometer" are useless to police.

NFC may or may not be, depending on how they set up their infrastructure. But the point is that the availability of more hardware at a lower price speaks against the raw purchased value of Apple's devices for large custom deployments.

And what about support? Apple has extensive worldwide support. Can you honestly say the same for Google hardware (hint: NO).

What "support" are you talking about? The police would be supported solely through their custom software provider, and basic hardware purchasing/warranty/returns through Google if they went that route.

Re:Save millions... (4, Insightful)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42883887)

And by equipping front-line personnel with the most fragile peice of telecommunications equipment in the world!

Re:Save millions... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884193)

And by equipping front-line personnel with the most fragile peice of telecommunications equipment in the world!

I'm assuming they'd put them into something like an Otter Box [otterbox.com] -- which should pretty much make them ruggedized enough.

Re:Save millions... (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884481)

"Putting an iPhone in your Otter Box" sounds like something you'd have to go to hospital to get sorted out.

Re:Save millions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884235)

Hear, hear!

I hope they won't rely on these for any safety-critical stuff. Consumer products (even Apple) are much cheaper that the usual government/commercial stuff, but you can break it if you look at it sideways. By contrast, for example, police radios can be dropped into puddles, thrown, kicked, etc. and they still work fine. They're there when you need them and don't have to be replaced every few months.

Re:Save millions... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884923)

By contrast, for example, police radios can be dropped into puddles, thrown, kicked, etc. and they still work fine.

No, you can't. If you drop them from about knee height into a shallow puddle they might survive, particularly if they land on one bottom corner or on their backs - although you'll probably need to replace the battery.

If they land square on the bottom of the radio, you'll smash the battery clips.

If they land on the top, you'll smash the aerial socket and volume control (the latter frequently taking a chunk off the board).

If they land on their faces, you'll smash the screen and punch the speaker magnet through the control PCB.

Re:Save millions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886575)

Sounds like you were using cut rate equipment. I used to work for a company that tested them to withstand the stuff I mentioned, and the firefighter radios were even more rugged. For example, complies w/ IP67 (immersible to 1m - use IP68 is you're going scuba diving) and MIL-STD-810 for shock, vibration, etc. Operating temp. -30 to +60C. A standard sales technique was for a rep to walk into someone's office and "accidentally" throw it across the room, then pick it up and demonstrate it.

Re:Save millions... (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about a year and a half ago | (#42887101)

You have no idea how fragile safety-critical systems really are. They function solely on the basis that disruption is generally localized and real-time disruption is less of a problem than a 2-3 minute window or 1-2 hour window depending on the function. Older radios were more robust than current generations, but still far from bulletproof. Current generation equipment much less so... but there are more channels to get information out which often offsets the liability. (Radio + cell via two completely different infrastructures is a simple example.)

Re:Save millions... (4, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884385)

Every time some school teachers or government workers in the U.S. want the latest tech toy, they pull that same "It will save money, improve efficiency, improve the quality of our work" shit too. I've yet to see it ever do ANY of those things. Not even once.

At least private industry can just say "We're giving it to our workers as a personal perk" and be honest about it.

Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42883717)

frontline police will be armed with smartphones and tablets

Must be an updated version of ET.

It'd be very interesting (1, Troll)

aglider (2435074) | about a year and a half ago | (#42883791)

in getting the details that lead to link "efficiency", "police" and "Apple products".

Re:It'd be very interesting (1)

sgunhouse (1050564) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884737)

Depends on what they had before ... if the answer is "radios" (and no computers of any kind) then it's fairly obvious how joining the 21st century could help them. Or if - like our locals here - they were still driving around with large 19" monitors in their patrol cars and the hardware to drive such a monitor (both power and data) ... that's fairly obvious too. All depends on what they were using before.

Re:It'd be very interesting (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885905)

you;d be surprised at the requirements of the cop on the street. He doesn't really want a flash and fragile device so that management can send him emails and reports and forms. He wants a radio that he can use "percussively assist" in the apprehension of criminals, and not have to take his eyes off the surrounding area to use. See, most cops want to watch the suspect as they radio in for a check, they do not want to swipe away pressing buttons and using a tiny keyboard with their fat gloved fingers, while the perp runs off (or worse, smacks the cop round the head and then runs off with a shiny new iPhone).

A device (a mobile data terminal) in the car that can be used to fill in the paperwork afterwards is fine, but again, the requirement there is that it is charged by the car, attached to the powerful car radio, and can't get lost, dropped or stolen.

Re:It'd be very interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886957)

I believe the points are skewed as the police typically are not chasing on foot or pulling infants from burning cars and jump at the right moment of the explosion in order to dive safely from a massive fireball.

Effeciency comes in when the officer has an iPad as a ticket device to search up the users info, build the ticket, and have the person sign the ticket right there. Besides the benefits of not having to do nearly has much paperwork, all data can be synced to the station instantly.

The dropped/stolen are the only real life possible problems with using iDevices. Besides, if it's stolen, unlike normal consumers that track their stolen property to the thiefs house and have to state their case to the law enforcement, the police will already be speeding, ligths and sirens blazing to apprehend the criminal that has the device.

Re:It'd be very interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42888529)

Generally NZ police have used radios to contact the communications centre for vehicle (registration) and person (warrants, identification confirmation) checks, often having to wait through other radio traffic. If a pusuit is in progress, all other calls wait. As I understand it, this will allow them to carry out these admin type checks directly, saving the time of waiting, and also allowing them to enter data directly into some systems.

Encryption (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42883855)

"Police declined to say if the devices and their communications will be encrypted."

In other words, they aren't. Otherwise, which reason would the police to not tell?

Re:Encryption (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884119)

If I was a betting man, I'd agree with you, but when it comes to security procedures, even if there is encryption, I see no reason to detail the security arrangements to the public unless I had to.

Re:Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884351)

By not saying they are encrypted, he's asking the world to try to find out. That implies a lot of things.

Re:Encryption (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884411)

So, security through obscurity?

Re:Encryption (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884123)

Like radio traffic.

Re:Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884355)

Devices would be encrypted as soon as a password is set. iPhones and iPad's do this by default.

As for communications, I sure hope they don't extend their police apps out without a VPN.. Unless the tablets/phones are just used for browsing..

Re:Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884765)

I can tell you're not only a security newbie but a government specification newbie as well.

You never reveal any more information regarding security sentive devices or procedures than you absolutely have to. That only increases the attack surface.

Yes, it's security through obscurity but this is not an either/or thing. You do both. You are obscure -as well-

In other words, they are (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884871)

In other words, they aren't. Otherwise, which reason would the police to not tell?

It's not the police declining to say, it's the ignorant article writers declining to research.

All recent Apple iOS devices are encrypted by default. That's how the remote wipe works quickly, it just tosses the key for the whole device.

The communications being encrypted is the more important issue.

Not sure if it'll work? (4, Funny)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#42883877)

"frontline police will be armed with smartphones and tablets "

I'm sure it'd hurt like hell getting hit in the head by an iPhone a cop threw but wouldn't it be cheaper to arm them with pointed sticks?

Police brutality. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42883937)

Pointed sticks would raise all sorts of civil rights issues.

Apple's Patent Rounded Corners(tm) can subdue perps in a genteel manner, while also curing dropsy and the marthambles.

Re:Not sure if it'll work? (4, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884213)

They have to use sticks with rounded corners now.

Re:Not sure if it'll work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884335)

and as on all iOS devices no going back button....

Re:Not sure if it'll work? (1)

StormReaver (59959) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885213)

They have to use sticks with rounded corners now.

They have to send their sticks to Apple, then buy them back as iSticks. They're the same sticks, but they're not allowed to use them without paying Apple first.

Re:Not sure if it'll work? (1)

Cow Jones (615566) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885523)

wouldn't it be cheaper to arm them with pointed sticks?

Pointed sticks? Ho, ho, ho. We want to learn how to defend ourselves against pointed sticks, do we? Getting all high and mighty, eh? Fresh fruit not good enough for you, eh? Well I'll tell you something my lad. When you're walking home tonight and some great homicidal maniac comes after you with a bunch of Apple products, don't come crying to me!
Now, the passion fruit.

Re:Not sure if it'll work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885819)

I'm sure it'd hurt like hell getting hit in the head by an iPhone a cop threw but wouldn't it be cheaper to arm them with pointed sticks?

I think they will be using iphone slingshots like the one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgzwas0GmaY [youtube.com]

Apple - Cost Savings - Oxymoron much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42883929)

Apple employees will be remotely wiping the devices when names of friends show up on searches / arrest lists.
This will NOT end well.
How the hell can they say it will save costs when they chose the most abhorrently expensive devices to start with - not to mention the shoddy workmanship will require additional expenditures to place them in ruggedized cases just to keep them all from dying in the first 20 minutes of use.

Blinded By the Rage again? (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884983)

Apple employees will be remotely wiping the devices when names of friends show up on searches / arrest lists.

You don't know how the remote wipes work, do you? That's not possible nor would it even help if you spent one second thinking about how police would use the devices.

This will NOT end well.

Not for Apple Haters, no. Because more the despised Apple products are showing deep value again.

How the hell can they say it will save costs when they chose the most abhorrently expensive devices to start with

Curious how a device can be "abhorrently" expensive. It sure seems like you have some deep emotional issues you're bringing to the table there.

iOS devices are a LITTLE more expensive. But for instance, what if they needed cell capability? What other "less abhorrent" tablet with baked in cellular support would they buy pray-tell?

And what about support? What other tablet has the level of support Apple offers in that region?

hrmmm.. (2, Interesting)

LodCrappo (705968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42883939)

So they will "save millions of dollars" by spending how much exactly? I'm sure it adds up if you use the new math.

Re:hrmmm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884283)

Ever hear of capital investments? This is the 21st century, not the 18th. Even minimum wage burger flippers have their productivity enhanced by using all sorts of equipment whose price is many times that of the junk you have in your kitchen.

Re:hrmmm.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884455)

It's never about saving money compared to history, it's about saving money compared to a strawman.

I did violate standards and skim the article, but it looks like 4.3 million Zealandbucks of toys that will allegedly allow them to cut hours to their staff and (not counting the original buy in) achieve a 12 year net savings of ~140 million Zealandbucks.

I expect the NZcops will continue to use exactly as much billable time as they have now.

Freeze! (2)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42883969)

I've got an angry bird and I'm not afraid to use him!

Re:Freeze! (2, Funny)

sdnoob (917382) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884205)

the pigs win

Re:Freeze! (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885071)

that was the pun i was going for

Re:Freeze! (1)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885521)

I've got an angry bird and I'm not afraid to use him!

No, you throw the birds *at* the pigs.

Nothing new, except that it's consumer grade stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42883981)

There is nothing new about police using Mobile Data Terminals (or Mobile Computing Devices, or whatever the current buzzword is in that field). They've been doing it for years, as have outfits like FedEx. The only thing new about smart phones is that they're being to consumers.

However, using consumer grade stuff is different. The police, commercial (FedEx, etc.) stuff is much more expensive, but also *much* more rugged. Drop it into a puddle, kick it, throw it, whatever, and it still works fine. The iPhones will be getting trashed left and right. Whether it makes more sense to buy cheap but essentially disposable stuff, or expensive but rugged and long-lived stuff, remains to be seen. It might make sense, or it might wind up being penny wise and pound foolish.

Re:Nothing new, except that it's consumer grade st (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884209)

Valid point. I helped the local public safety and pd departments deploy "MDT"s nearly 10 years ago. Some of the original equipment is still in use and AFAIK nearly all of it was retired in upgrades, not because of failure. They are rugged, actually somewhat indestructible. They have hardware and software interfaces tailored to the unique demands of an officer in the field and are well proven.

Using flashy consumer grade tech toys in the field sounds like an uninformed executive's special recipe for failure. It's very hard to imagine what possible advantage a general purpose, light duty device would have over the highly refined and specialized solutions that are available (and have been in use since long before the current tech fads).

Re:Nothing new, except that it's consumer grade st (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885039)

Consumer grade tech is much cheaper and far more readily available... While the devices may break more often, replacements and spare parts are easily acquired when necessary.
The cheaper cost and more rapid replacement also makes it easier to upgrade to newer devices in the future, rather than being stuck with ancient legacy devices that cannot easily adapt to changing needs and end up being resented by the people who use them.
Also, employees are far more likely to already be familiar with consumer devices, and thus require less training on their use.

And while some of these specialised devices may be "highly refined", this is often not the case... Many may do their existing job well, but are difficult to adapt for changing requirements and will serve new purposes very badly or not at all. Similarly because such devices are highly specialized there are very few suppliers of them and the market is very hard to break into, so you often end up with devices suffering from many serious flaws and no willingness from the manufacturers to fix them because they have you locked in anyway.

Consider the parallel with desktop computers... Mainframes and highend unix systems with dumb terminals were reliable, powerful, easy to centrally manage and yet they got replaced by cheap individual non redundant desktop computers running extremely fragile and easily damaged software...

Re:Nothing new, except that it's consumer grade st (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885911)

So they wholesale swap out to the latest new Apple product. What happens when Apple comes out with version x+1, x+2 etc next year.. What if their app or some functionality changes on x+1 or x+2 they they needed or relied on? Now they are in the same boat stuck with multiple pieces of old equipment with potentially different capabilities and compatibilities. or they are stuck buying used ones from ebay. One of the major factors for Apple in the enterprise is they do not have a published or predictable timeline and roadmap. It does not mean much to consumers but for big business and government it does.

Re:Nothing new, except that it's consumer grade st (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886243)

Consumer grade tech is much cheaper and far more readily available... While the devices may break more often, replacements and spare parts are easily acquired when necessary.

We're talking about field equipment used by law enforcement here. An officer in pursuit of a suspect, responding to an emergency, etc is not going to just pop into the local best buy and replace critical equipment.

The cheaper cost and more rapid replacement also makes it easier to upgrade to newer devices in the future, rather than being stuck with ancient legacy devices that cannot easily adapt to changing needs and end up being resented by the people who use them.

I'm not sure what the origin of this straw man is, but the officers I work with are quite happy with the devices currently in use. They have access to a wide variety of county and state services, with new capabilities being added quite often. For instance, they recently added the ability to do an on scene photo line up that allows victims to identify suspects only moments after they have been apprehended (and without having to confront the suspect personally, a major roadblock to getting charges brought against criminals involved in gang related activity). Trust me, the officers do *not* resent being given tools that help them get these guys off the street.

Also, employees are far more likely to already be familiar with consumer devices, and thus require less training on their use.

Training is part of an officer's life and it goes far beyond what someone would pick up just using something around the house anyway. This is why they are given quite a bit of driving instruction despite most likely being familiar with how to operate an automobile in a civilian capacity. They learn how to operate their weapons, communications and computing equipment in a way that is very different than someone would use a device in their home. This will be true regardless of whether their equipment is a consumer grade device or a professional tool.

And while some of these specialised devices may be "highly refined", this is often not the case... Many may do their existing job well, but are difficult to adapt for changing requirements and will serve new purposes very badly or not at all. Similarly because such devices are highly specialized there are very few suppliers of them and the market is very hard to break into, so you often end up with devices suffering from many serious flaws and no willingness from the manufacturers to fix them because they have you locked in anyway.

Vendor lock in is obviously not a concern here, as they have selected Apple devices.

Consider the parallel with desktop computers... Mainframes and highend unix systems with dumb terminals were reliable, powerful, easy to centrally manage and yet they got replaced by cheap individual non redundant desktop computers running extremely fragile and easily damaged software...

In cases where lives depend on computing, you will absolutely will not find consumer grade PCs used for critical roles. You will however find quite a few mainframes and high end unix systems.

Sounds good, hopefully (1)

Thyamine (531612) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884083)

Here in Philadelphia they spent millions on a new radio system (Motorola?) only to have it not work. If this allows for better and more consistent communication for their PD, then I hope it works. I like Apple products, but I'd be happy to see it succeed with whichever ecosystem worked. Plus without having to establish, manage, maintain the (radio) system it runs on, I can see it saving money regardless of how much iDevices may cost.

Re:Sounds good, hopefully (1)

DFurno2003 (739807) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884211)

The Motorola systems that are common in most police stations arent going anywhere. When the cell towers are down, they still have their Radio comms, plus they push data to the police in the field, allowing them to do things like check your documentation against their database. Adding i-devices to the mix may help them with some clerical work, but it's never going to replace the existing infrastructure.

Re:Sounds good, hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884389)

And when the cellular towers get overloaded from large amounts of people using it? Police lose their ability to get information.

Just because Philadelphia stupidly decided to do something stupid (you provide no details), doesn't meat the tens of thousands of other police districts / emergency services were retarded. Nobody else seems to have an issue with their radio system.

Stupid idea is stupid.

Re:Sounds good, hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884917)

If you follow leading etch spectrum news, you will see that that bandwidth problems are a myth. We have the technology to use fewer frequencies and get more bandwidth in. Angular momentum added to light waves for the win!

Re:Sounds good, hopefully (1)

nolife (233813) | about a year and a half ago | (#42886033)

mobile bandwidth problems are not a myth, they are real for the end users. The actual problem might not be limited spectrum or a technology deficiency and maybe a carrier refusing to spend money to expand or upgrade but that does not change the fact that there is still a problem.

Re:Sounds good, hopefully (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about a year and a half ago | (#42887179)

The cellular connection is never the only link; many police cars have wifi repeaters from the radio links, as well as voice communication over the radio...

why did they spend if it didn't work (1)

Chirs (87576) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885937)

Those sorts of contracts should be done in a phased rollout where they pay a bit then roll out some stuff and test it and then pay for it. There's no reason to be locked in for millions for a system that doesn't work.

The Meat and Potatoes: (2)

DFurno2003 (739807) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884099)

Vodafone is the mobile network provider of choice for NZ Police and will also supply the force with the devices in a decade-long deal, with the initial three-month rollout costing NZ$4.3 million (A$2.75 million). Officers will use two specific apps — eQuip for access to the Police National Intelligence Application for information on people, vehicles and locations, and Mobile Responder (pdf), which provides maps of where staff and colleagues are — as well as standard office type programs such as email and calendars. Police conducted an 11-month trial last year with over 100 staff in four districts around the country, and found that the devices provided a half-hour productivity gain per officer and shift. In total, NZ Police expects to save 520,000 hours each year for the 6086 smart device equipped officers, worth up to NZ$304.8 million (A$248 million) over 12 years. Over that period, NZ Police will spend NZ$159 million (A$129 million) in operating expenditure to fund the smart device initiative..... Apparently the savings comes in the form of man hours. I wonder how many man hours will be lost to the unnecessary apps installed on the devices?

Re:The Meat and Potatoes: (1)

DFurno2003 (739807) | about a year and a half ago | (#42884135)

During my time in the Navy, I always wished we had a simpler system for producing incident reports, instead of having to sit at a computer and input the same data over and over again. An application to document traffic accidents would have been an AMAZING time saver. Also, sorry about the WOT.

Re:The Meat and Potatoes: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885221)

"Also, sorry about the WOT."

WTF? Women On Top? Wide Open Throttle?

Huh?

MOD UP (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885121)

Good grief, after wading through all the virulent apple-haterism we find really practical reasons why they went with iOS devices all the way down here at the bottom - software, and the fact that the full range of iOS devices come with cellular data support.

It probably doesn't hurt that they also have a wider range of choices for durable protective cases.

Maps? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884149)

Let's hope they don't need the maps [slashdot.org] feature!

Encrypted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884317)

iPhone and iPad are automatically encrypted out of box when you put a password on them.

The communications would only be encrypted if they use a VPN which I'm sure they will for any applications..

Re:Encrypted? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885985)

And where is the key stored?
My iphone has a password, and when i boot it up it starts connecting to my mail servers in the background before i unlock the screen so it clearly has whatever keys it needs to decrypt the data accessible on the device...
I would be much happier if it was unable to boot at all until a key had been entered, such that the key was never stored on the device.

Remote Wipe is a joke! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42884931)

It is not as easy as you're lead to believe.

Not a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885129)

When you're getting ID-d, instead of having to radio home to an operator who the gets your record from the computer and radios it back, they can just use an app to get the data.

I hope they get trained to hold it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42885177)

I hope they get trained to hold it right.

Or get proper directions for that matter.

in other news (1)

tfocker4 (2750497) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885409)

New Zealand police outfits changing to black turtlenecks and jeans in cost saving measure. Chief quoted saying traditional black with warm/cold weather turtlenecks and rugged jeans are an ideal pair. New Zealand police now driving Porsches as cost saving measure. Chief quoted saying they can cover twice the distance in half the time. New Zealand police adding all-aluminum ships to coastal fleet. Chief quoted saying this is actually a terrible idea... New Zealand police now recognize Opposite Day as official holiday.

And what of auto-correct? (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885747)

Are the police going to start writing like teens? What of the problems of autocorrect?

This actually makes sense. (1)

Celeritas 5k (1587217) | about a year and a half ago | (#42885931)

The same thing is happening in the aviation world-- most aircrews are required to carry around several thick, heavy binders around with them all the time, and always keep them up to date by pulling and replacing a bunch of pages every month or two. I'd guess your average pubs bag weighs 30-40 pounds, depending on the aircraft and crew position. iPads are becoming common as a replacement.

This is the sort of thing a tablet is perfect for-- content consumption. In an otterbox it's plenty durable, the battery lasts a long time, it has a big, pretty, readable display, and in the long run it will actually save money over paper. You no longer have to issue a full set of pubs to everyone (initial issue can cost several hundred dollars), updates are basically free, and hilariously there's also a measurable fuel savings due to the hundred-odd pounds of paper you're no longer hauling all over the world. It's not a perfect system, and there's work to do on the updating process and overall formatting (I lose all my annotations every time there's an update, and the PDF files don't come with nearly enough bookmarks), but most of those problems come from the fact that pubs are currently written to be printed. Once they're formatted with a tablet in mind, I expect things to get better.

Obviously the article's implementation of the technology is quite different, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are similar advantages to be had for a police force. Remember that the iPads are likely cheaper than the laptops they are replacing, or if there aren't laptops to replace (the article doesn't say) they are saving man-hours somewhere. Labor is expensive.

I steal your phone. How are you gonna wipe it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42886053)

I wrap my stolen phones in tinfoil.

I double-dog-dare you to remote wipe them!

I have a friend in the NZ police.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42887601)

...who says that this is to cut down on paperwork. When out on patrol, the cops jot down what happened in notebooks/paper forms, then have to transfer this to computer at the end of their shift. This is designed so that the case notes can be updated immediately, and they don't have to do the end of shift translation, and they can go between jobs quicker.
    the phones and tablets arel all be locked down, on a private VPN and only get approved apps/updates from police IT. The iphone lets you have a corporate app store, which likely will not include Angry Birds.

We do have Newspapers in New Zealand (1)

Sinesurfer (40786) | about a year and a half ago | (#42888683)

Using a foreign Australian newspaper for a New Zealand story is about the same as using a Mexican newspaper to report on an issue in the U.S.

The New Zealand newspaper of record is the New Zealnd Herald which carried this story 3 weeks agao (when it was topical) - http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10776556 [nzherald.co.nz]

Oh! and sweet as bro.

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