In his article “The computer for the 21st century,” Mark Weiser described a vision of the future of technology in which ubiquitous computers blend into our everyday lives. We interact with them constantly but we do not have to concentrate on the interaction itself. Instead we can focus on the goals we are trying to accomplish through the interaction. Our world, of course, is very different from the world of Weiser’s vision our computers are centers of attention and we often need extensive training to be able to interact with them. One place where this deficiency of current computing technology is on full display is the inside of a police cruiser. Technological advances have introduced many new electronic devices in police cruisers, for example radar equipment, video equipment, sirens, emergency lights, radios, etc. Each of these devices has its own user interface. Each interface in turn acts as a center of attention and can be operated only by trained individuals.

Work at the University of New Hampshire Consolidated Advanced Technologies Laboratory (CATLab) is done by faculty, staff and students who concentrate on making the devices inside a police cruiser behave more like devices in Weiser’s vision. We have developed the Project54 system integrates the cruiser’s devices. Pervasive computing (or ubiquitous computing) is at the core of CATLab’s R&D. All other R&D efforts build directly on this effort.

A key element of the Project54 system is its voice interface. While officers still need to be trained to use the devices, gone are the multitude of individual user interfaces that added complexity to the interaction. Officers can use voice commands to tell the system what they want to accomplish.

The Project54 system also allows individual cruisers to be integrated into agency-wide data networks. This is done by combining several technologies: Project 25 radio communications, wireless hotspot technology as well as datacasting technology.

By providing device integration and connecting cruisers to data networks, the Project54 system enables vehicle telematics applications. We are working on remote diagnostic applications as well as navigation applications for cruisers.

All of the CATLab activities are firmly coupled with technology transfer activities. CATLab has helped in the deployment of hundreds of police cruisers with the Project54 system. We have also helped the New Hampshire Department of Safety deploy a state- wide system for wireless data access from cruisers. We also work with industry and first responders in order to enable first responders to successfully take advantage of our technology. Our strong ties to law enforcement and industry in turn inform our research and development efforts. These ties provide ample opportunities for testing and they generate substantial feedback from the end-users of our technology.

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