Security, Cost, Convenience Make the PlayBook an Attractive Alternative
Security is a tremendous concern for police departments; the Internet and secure police databases cant be accessed on the same device. However, the introduction of BlackBerry Balancetechnology that creates a virtual wall between security-sensitive data and everything else on a deviceaddressed this.
Cops wont say work and play, Koke explained, suggesting the two sides of the wall, but secure work and work.
Given that the department was already pleased with its 2008 rollout of BlackBerry handsets, and the challenge of slimmer new cars, it wasnt a leap to say, Lets put a tablet inside the car, said Koke, noting that these werent the departments only motivations. Money was also a factor, as was convenience.
In a struggling global economy, police departments are being forced to operate on less but deliver the same results. In Canada, said Koke, department funding has been cut 20 percent, which generally comes out of salaries and vehicles.
Rugged laptops, easily accommodated by the Crown Vic, have become de rigueur in police vehicles, but with mounting and other installation necessitiesa good amount of connectivity equipment goes into the trunkdeploying one can conservatively cost $10,000 per vehicle, said Koke. A tablet, by comparison, runs $500 to $600. That savings, multiplied by the number of cars in a fleet, is likely to pique a lot of interest.
Also, No officer ever takes the laptop out of the car, said Koke.
The PlayBook, by contrast, is truly mobile. In an arrangement designed by a company called Mobile Innovations, its housed in an Otterbox case, mounted on the dash and paired with a wireless keyboard and a small machine that grabs information off a driver license. The mount works on springs, though, and so it takes just a second to grab the PlayBook and go; it fits in the cargo pants pocket of an officers uniform. Koke uses it to look up information, print tickets, submit daily reports on the state of the vehicle (a thing thats done at the start of each shift), to record witness statements and more.
The PlayBooks potential is also raised by the comfort young officers have with the BlackBerry platform. New recruits are trained to use the devices, and a BlackBerry smartphone is now as much a part of an officers uniform, said Koke, as his baton or handcuffs.
Wes Montee, a senior government market development manager for RIM, explained that a recent VDC study found 90 percent of government-issued devices to be BlackBerry phones.
With every new product, said Montee, RIM looks for opportunities to maximize sales. As for opportunity for the PlayBook in new police crusiers, Its great to get in on the ground floor as things are moving forward, he said. Theres a tremendous amount of interest in this.
Follow me on Twitter at @eWEEK_Michelle.