London, UK Cleveland has become the first police force in the world to trial a radio that increases officer safety using a GPS tracking unit that is so sensitive it will continue to operate when most conventional units fail.
The unit allows officers using the Airwave radio system to press an emergency button to summon help without saying a single word and be sure the control room will be able to fix an exact location for them.
Developed by Sepura, the handset can pick up satellite signals without the usual interference from high buildings, trees and covered walkways. It needs only the weakest of signals and works with reflected signals to obtain a location fix.
Ian Lund, Airwave Project Manager for Cleveland Police, said, “A number of officers and staff will be testing the radio initially throughout Teesside and in coming months we expect those numbers to increase significantly.”
The SRP2000 sGPS TETRA handportable radio has integrated GPS tracking that addresses the problem conventional GPS faces of needing an uninterrupted view of the sky to pick up satellite signals before it can calculate location co-ordinates
Sepura is working with QinetiQ to incorporate the ultra-sensitive GPS technology into the SRP2000 sGPS radio specifically for the UK's police forces. The radio combines recent advances in low signal strength GPS (LSS GPS) technology with integrated hardware for fast signal acquisition and reacquisition.
As a direct result of its military heritage, QinetiQ has been developing robust positioning solutions for both military and commercial applications since the introduction of GPS over 20 years ago.
The SRP2000 sGPS combines very low signal strength GPS technology with complex algorithms, implemented in custom hardware and software. This approach involves massive parallel correlation across nine receiver channels. This approach delivers increased sensitivity and reduced signal re-acquisition times.
Sepura is also working with a number of third-party suppliers and customers to integrate captured GPS location data into mapping and other control room functions.
Airwave is the UK's radio infrastructure for the police which is being developed by mmO2 to help make police officers safer, more efficient and more effective, and ultimately to deliver interoperability between all emergency services. To date more than 50% of the UK's police forces are using the system and when completed in 2005 officers will, for the first time, be able to easily talk to one another regardless of force boundaries.
Radio traffic between the terminals using the Airwave network or between terminals when using Direct Mode Operation is TETRA encrypted and cannot be monitored or 'over heard'. When combined with national interoperability, police can communicate seamlessly and securely throughout England, Scotland and Wales.