Alabama Takes Lead on Wireless Justice Net
2% PDAs, 30% BlackBerrys, 22% Java phones, 46% Notebook computers
Source: Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center; based on 472 users in February
In Alabama, law enforcement officers can now tap into the National Crime Information Center’s computerized index — a nationwide FBI database of the criminal histories of more than 20 million people — in real time using their mobile computing devices.
The mobile systems connect to NCIC using the Voyager Secure Wireless Data platform. Alabama is the first state to use the centralized wireless criminal justice networking application from Advanced Technology Systems of McLean, Va.
“Officers love the quick turnaround time,” says Lynn Childs, public information manager for the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center (ACJIC). “It also takes NCIC out of the building so they can use it at an investigation.” Other benefits include officer safety, quick response and confidentiality, Childs says.
A $1 million, three-year grant, through the Alabama Department of Homeland Security, allowed ACJIC to begin deploying the Voyager Secure Wireless Data program in October.
“We have about 50 agencies using Voyager right now, but it is available to the more than 900 criminal justice user agencies throughout the state,” Childs says.
Agencies must provide their own hardware and connectivity while ACJIC supplies the licenses for the wireless software. Requests must come from sheriffs or agency chiefs and must include specifics on how many notebooks, personal digital assistants, Java phones and BlackBerry devices the application must support as well as each device’s user, because users cannot share access privileges.
Installation is quick. And training is minimal — two to three hours — because most of Alabama’s law enforcement officers already are familiar with NCIC, Childs says.