Officer in pursuit! — T-Mobile backing up cops with M2M

There will be no donut jokes in this posting.

T-Mobile (NYSE:DT) has always prided itself as being on the leading edge of innovative machine-to-machine communications, embedding M2M modules in everything from children’s watches to industrial farm equipment. It’s latest M2M trial is no exception. T-Mobile is currently working with an unnamed police department in the US to track the movements of its patrol officers–and it’s not using GPS. Rather, the trial uses accelerometers embedded in the officers’ flashlights to determine whether they’re running, walking or still. Embedded M2M modules then send that info over the T-Mobile GSM network to dispatch, which can use that biometric data to determine if an officer is in pursuit  or–heaven forbid–incapacitated.

“We don’t usually want to talk about this but let’s say the flashlight came to a sudden stop,” said John Horn, T-Mobile’s national director of M2M. “That would be a reason for concern.”

The system isn’t perfect, Horn said.  There are lots of reasons a cop could be running or motionless that wouldn’t necessitate calling in the SWAT team. But the accelerometer tracking gives the police department base line data, which can then be used to detect unusual patterns that could trigger certain responses. A cop running or motionless for more than a few seconds might get a radio call from dispatch asking if he needs assistance. Though the trial only uses motion data now, it has the potential of becoming very interesting if other sensors are added to the system, Horn said. A sensor that detects when a gun is unholstered or an officer’s heart rate increases could all be very useful to a police force looking to moniter the safety of their officers, Horn said. “The sky’s the limit,” he added.

Horn won’t reveal the specific police force conducting the trial, nor would he give any hints to its size, but he said so far it’s been very successful and the department in question has agreed to move from trial to a full deployment.

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