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Police Cars Get High-tech Boost

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Fighting crime could soon be as easy as tapping on a touch screen when the world's most high-tech police cars roll into cop stations nationwide.

The cars, thanks to front and rear video cameras and infrared technology, will be capable of automatic facial and number plate recognition. A tap on the integrated touch screen can then bring up information files on people, vehicles and crime scenes.

In-car video surveillance systems will let officers communicate with support centres in real-time.

"The car is designed to automatically check vehicles that it drives past whether it is a shopping centre car park or the highway," said Des Bahr, director of operations at the non-profit National Safety Agency (NSA), the Australian research and development group that designed the new cars.

Police could also identify people through their fingerprints using technology built into the car, while a GPS navigation system will help them map out the best routes and allow police headquarters to track a car's location at any given time.

The NSA claims a single police car equipped with the number plate recognition system could check up to 9,000 vehicle registrations in a shift.

A Holden Commodore VE incorporating the new technology is on display today and tomorrow in Melbourne at the SmartDemo 2007 conference, which is taking place at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds.

Bahr said the NSA, Motorola, General Motors and Monash University, in developing the "police car of the future", maintained close consultation with NSW Police and emergency services nationally. The project was funded by a grant from the Federal Government.

He said while much of the technology would be ready for roll-out in Spring next year, police agencies had already started incorporating elements into their existing cars.

"Various agencies around Australia are already starting to adopt the in-car video [and] some are starting to trial number plate recognition as a result of this," Mr Bahr said.

"NSW are very keen to look at this sooner and we're working very closely with NSW Police to look at integration of such technology very near in the future."

NSW Police Minister David Campbell said the Government was always looking at ways to improve the equipment it provides to NSW Police and had already fitted some cars with "in-car video and mobile data terminals".

"NSW Police are having ongoing discussions with the National Safety Agency in relation to the concept vehicle," Mr Campbell said.

Bahr just returned from the US where he shared information with the Los Angeles Police Department, which Bahr said was working on a similar project.

He said the NSA over the next 12 months would take the concept vehicle to police agencies around the country "so they can touch and feel a practical example and determine for themselves how it enhances the operation of the vehicle".

The goal of the project was originally to improve heat and power management in emergency vehicles, but it had now been extended to explore the potential of new and emerging technologies, Bahr said.

Taken From:http://www.smh.com.au/news/technology/police-cars-get-hightech-boost/2007/08/14/1186857476490.html

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