ACT Police enlist WAP to fight crime

Despite a general condemning of WAP (wireless application protocol), the ACT Police Force is over the moon with the introduction of a new system that enables it to quickly access car registration details in the field.

By using a Motorola WAP-enabled mobile phone or Compaq iPaq handheld (connected to a mobile phone) dialling into the ACT Department of Urban Service's new rego.act computer system, day-to day operations for the ACT's Police have taken a quantum leap forward.

Jeff Brown, acting superintendent in charge of Police Communications in the ACT, said that the previous system, TRIPS (transport regulation information processing system), was "slow and cumbersome, crashed all the time, and only operated about 70 per cent of the time".

"Previously we radioed into a central location, had to go through many screens, queue up with our enquiry, then an operator at Police Communications would get the information for us. If the computer went down, then we wouldn't have access and couldn't do a motor vehicle check."

The first stage of the rego.act system, access to the system via Cable & Wireless Optus's WAP gateway and, ultimately, Optus Wireless IP (a general packet radio service network), has been in operation for about two months, with selected members also having access to the system via the Internet.

Brown said this access was through an 'in-car' system, two of which are currently being trialled. "Now when we are doing random breath testing, we are able to run the registration numbers through the system at the same time."

Brown said that the ACT Police had access to NSW and Victorian-registered cars, and by mid-October expects to have access to information about all Australian vehicles and licences, except Tasmania.

Local e-business solution provider Internet Solutions Australia partnered with Computer Sciences Corporation to supply the real-time mobile access solution for police, parking inspectors and on-road vehicle inspectors.

The solution uses an 'n-tier' enterprise architecture built on open standards using the J2EE platform. The middle tier uses EJB; the server platform is Sun Solaris, with Oracle providing the DBMS; while the link between the mobile device and the system is secured using 128-bit wireless transport layer security.

Brown said officers use a "complicated password" of mixed alphanumeric and symbols to log into the system. He said it was also being considered that police would only be able to log on to the system, which keeps a record of all enquiries, while on duty.

Frank Daly, the ACT Department of Urban Services' project director for rego.act, said the second stage of the infringement management project -- intranet access of the system over the ACT Government WAN and to a "few trusted organisations" -- is expected to occur early next year. The final stage, Internet access, so that the public can transact with the government, is due by mid-next year.

Brown said this new system was a "significant initiative".

"In the future, I think it would be ideal for police to be able to have access to additional information such as whether or not there are warrants for the owner [of the vehicle], warrants for associates of the owner and the background of the owner.

"The availability of this sort of information could make a police officer a very efficient operator. I could be just out driving around and solve about half the crime out there with that information."

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