Motorola Solutions, not to be confused with the Google-owned Motorola Mobility, has been showing off the police car of the future. The Ford prototype is loaded with cameras and sensors, but it's not quite as Minority Report as you would expect.
The idea is to bring together a disparate array of technologies in a way that adds to an officer's awareness, capability and safety. The car is kitted with seven cameras and a hefty storage drive to keep a handle on all of that data. The most interesting of the cameras is the "perp camera" which keeps an eye on the backseat of the car. The data from the cameras can be used in time-saving ways. Consider the car that reads license plates and files ticketing paper work for the officer. Good for officers, but maybe bad for the more charming and flirtatious of speedy drivers. If nothing else, seven cameras per car ensures a steady stream of Cops episodes for years to come. Over time, however, police departments would be forced into keeping hefty data centers or making Dropbox a very happy service provider.
Like many enterprise style solutions, some parts of the product are wildly out of date. Consider the LEX 700 Mission Critical Handset. It's running the latest version of Windows Mobile, which last saw an update in early 2010. The handset will be shifted to Android at some point, but for now, what might have been an officer's best friend runs on comically out of date software.
The mix of data collection and context sensitive usage allows the car to become a virtual partner. Automating processes will make police work faster and more effective, but it's hard to dismiss the slightly Orwellian scent hanging in the air.