The pilot project for mobile traffic accident recording by the Saarland Police was presented at the national IT summit of the German Federal Government in Saarbrücken. The Saarlouis police force recorded traffic accident data digitally on tablets and smartphones using the HybridForms Police forms system, rather than on handwritten forms. Initial evaluations show time savings in the double-digit percentage range, depending on the case in question.

Groundbreaking pilot project for the digitisation of police work

The Saarland police force records the details of roughly 33,000 traffic accidents a year. The details of the accident and the people involved must be recorded at the site of the accident. Before the project began, local police officers wrote this information on paper and then copied all the details to Poladis (the central police information and operation processing system) by hand when they returned to the police station. A pilot project, based on mobile policing with the aid of mobile digital devices and standard technologies, was conducted in order to evaluate possible reductions in administrative work and the additional time involved.

First practical use of mobile policing in Germany

In the pilot study, Saarlouis police officers were equipped with tablets (Microsoft Surface 3) and smartphones (Microsoft Lumia 950 and HP elite X3). The software chosen to record the data was icomedias’ HybridForms Police solution. The digital form for recording accidents was adapted from the paper version used previously – in close cooperation with the police officers, who helped to develop the form with their experience in the field and with internal procedures. The practical test with the police at traffic accidents began in mid-September 2016.

On-the-spot traffic accident recording with smartphones and tablets

The pilot project is focused on optimising user-friendliness to enable effective on-site procedure. Optimisation is assisted by the built-in functions of the HybridForms app, which is installed on the tablets and smartphones for data collection. Completing the forms and avoiding errors is facilitated by colour-coded required fields, a completion assistant and pre-defined lists. Tablets or smartphones can be used to photograph the scene of the accident and annotations can be made directly on the pictures, in colour. Freehand drawings can be created with tablet pens and voice memos can be recorded with the internal microphones of the devices. OCR text recognition can be performed on photos of ID cards to copy the most important data so that police officers no longer need to type it in. The offline function allows uninterrupted use even when no internet connection is available. The system also allows authentic handwritten signatures to be recorded with the tablet pens, which capture and store biometric data such as writing pressure and speed.
»The digital transformation of previously paper-based workflows benefits users of the mobile form app by offering innovative and user-friendly features. Advantages include fewer errors when entering information and the immediate electronic availability and evaluation of all recorded data. It also gives the police officers more time to look after the local people.« – Christian Ekhart, icomedias CEO.

Pilot project for mobile policing in Saarland
Pilot project for mobile policing in Saarland
Pilot project for mobile policing in Saarland

Microsoft Continuum display in police vehicles

In case you’ve already considered the further possibilities in mobile police work: as a Universal Windows Platform app, HybridForms Police works perfectly with Microsoft Continuum. This turns a smartphone into a personal computer, to which a monitor, a mouse or a keyboard can be connected with an adapter. A new Mercedes-Benz E-class was on show at the IT Summit in Saarbrücken, equipped as a police vehicle and demonstrating the initial results of the pilot project in Saarland. If a police officer connects a Continuum display adapter to his smartphone, the forms appear on the extra-wide dashboard display. All data is stored exclusively on the smartphone, so that no traces of data remain in the vehicle when it is unoccupied.
»This technology takes not only data protection but also asset protection into account: future generations of Windows phones will connect to the car just as easily without having to perform any modifications on the vehicle. This is particularly important, due to discrepancies between the innovation and development cycles of vehicles and mobile devices.« – Thomas Lipp, Senior Business Development Manager Public Sector, Microsoft Germany.

Saving time with mobile digital processes

The proof of concept (PoC) for mobile policing in Saarland was conducted in cooperation with the German ministry of home affairs and sports, the Saarland regional police authority, Saarlouis police station, the German research centre for artificial intelligence (DFKI), Microsoft Germany, Avanade / Accenture, LDI and IT-DLZ Saarland and icomedias. Initial evaluations of the potential for specific savings and analyses of user acceptance by the DFKI indicate time savings in the double-digit percentage range, depending on the case in question.
Professor Peter Loos from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) at the Institute for Business Informatics and the University of Saarland has the following to say about the results of the analyses: »The use of mobile devices to record accident protocols not only facilitates on-the-spot data acquisition, it also allows better integration of the entire administrative process. This step towards digitisation can significantly reduce current processing costs.« Police officers can use the time gained for other activities such as patrolling to mark a stronger presence, thus improving public safety.

Pilot project for mobile policing in Saarland
Pilot project for mobile policing in Saarland
Pilot project for mobile policing in Saarland

All photos: Alex Schelbert – © Microsoft Germany