Dublin firm helps London Met keep tabs on criminals


8 Mar 2004

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Dublin mobile software firm Saadian has helped the London Metropolitan Police develop an email and SMS intelligence system that keeps arresting officers aware of when prisoners are being released. It is understood that the company is in talks with five other constabularies in the UK, including Greater Manchester Police.

The new technology, which went live in November, will help intelligence units in at least six UK constabularies to be automatically notified when offenders are released from prison. The system converts Prison Service Data into readable format and then sends the details by email or text message a month before and on the day of release of a prisoner. This then gives officers time to prepare a strategy on how to tackle those offenders who previously demanded a significant amount of time when they return to an area.

The Prisoner Intelligence Notification System (PINS) provides police with timely intelligence on over 15,000 criminals within seconds, freeing officers to be deployed on other important projects. The aim is to use the information securely and rapidly in conjunction with the growth of the Airwave system between UK police constabularies, which enables officers in emergency services to be located in real-time as well as access and share vital information.

Operated by MMO2, Airwave is a TETRA Terrestrial Trunked Radio) digital radio system that protects police officers on the beat from eavesdropping through the use of advanced encryption technology. Some 11 UK constabularies are currently using the service.

Digitally encrypted and password authenticated the PINS technology integrates seamlessly with prison systems in the UK and disseminates the information to the appropriate officers privately. Officers would then be able to match the prisoner data to different agencies as well as link other vital information such as postcodes in investigations. As well as this, officers will be able to receive photographs of prisoners about to be released as well as establish audit trails on the information being employed. The aim is to free up police manpower, prevent repeat crime and enable specialist police units to keep up to date with immediate information.

The system is understood to have been developed using open standards technologies, including SOAP API and XML architecture.

Dublin-based Saadian is one of Ireland’s best known and original mobile software developers and is engaged in building enterprise mobile content applications for both business and government customers, including the Irish Times and Today FM.

The company recently hit the headlines with the news that in conjunction with Vodafone the company had won a contract with the Local Government Computer Services Board (LGCSB) to deploy the technology that will enable local authorities across Ireland to engage with citizens via SMS. While hosting the EU Presidency 2004 website the LGCSB will use Saadian’s Business2Mobile application to inform politicians about meetings and events as well as register their responses by text.

SMS will be used by local authorities for distributing automated update notifications to citizens on the processing of documentation such as planning applications and driving licence renewals. Local Authorities will also be able to use SMS to support the community-based Mobhaile project (www.mobhaile.ie) by allowing sporting bodies and community groups to communicate with their membership.

In an interview with siliconrepublic.com, the managing director of Saadian, Herbie Ellis, said that eventually the company would like to see the PINS technology deployed in Ireland by both the Gardai and the Police Service of Northern Ireland. “Right now it is more appropriate in the UK, which has a higher turnover of prisoners. But the benefits of the system will become obvious in time,” Ellis explained.

Saadian’s chief technology officer Cliodhna McGuirk added that added with the TETRA system the technology will have immediate knock-on benefits for patrolling officers. “By their nature, police forces are mostly distributed forces and therefore access to vital information in the field is of paramount importance. Because TETRA is so secure and because new messaging formats like MMS are maturing, officers might soon be able to get other information such as a picture to identify a known criminal while on the beat. PINS is being looked at by at least five UK constabularies and we believe that it will eventually enjoy a national rollout in Britain, giving the intelligence officers better knowledge in the field.”

By John Kennedy