police asset monitoring


Thames Valley Police required an effective way to track their equipment at the scene of a crime or an accident. When an investigation is conducted, a vast array of equipment may be utilized, including multiple spot lamps with stands, generators, tents and shelters. Under the old system, the full range of equipment was taken out of a van and any items that remained at the scene were entered on a paper register. Items were signed back into the book when returned to the central storage, which could be several days later.

While this system told administrators that the equipment had been sent to a crime scene, it provided no idea what items had actually been used at the scene. Therefore, there was no clear view of asset locations or their state of maintenance. To provide this information with the paper-based system would require an officer standing at the back of the van logging the equipment as it was removed. This is not practical given that investigations often take place in the middle of the night in all kinds of weather and the priority is to ensure the scene is both safe and secure.

Thames Valley Police deployed a new TROVAN solution that has revolutionized the process. A low frequency RFID tag is embedded in each crime scene equipment item. Various tag sized are utilized depending on the item- as large as 25 mm diameter or as small as a grain of rice for small items. A Psion Teklogix WORKABOUT PRO (image below) handheld computer is equipped with a LID-WAP Trovan reader to log equipment going into the call out van.

Once the equipment is set up, a staff member reads each item with another WORKABOUT PRO kept in the van to log items specifically used at the scene. Unlike bar code, the RFID tag is very durable and does not have to be seen to be read. This makes the system easy to use and long-lasting in rugged environments where a bar code would have to be replaced several times due to wear and tear.

Details of who the equipment is being booked out to, the incident type and location are all entered directly into the WORKABOUT PRO to instantly provide asset trail. Given that police investigations can often take place in the middle of the night, perhaps in a field or woods, it is easy for equipment to be misplaced. As equipment is put back on the van, the system instantly indicates if anything has been left behind.

Finally, as items are returned from the van to the store, they are scanned again to see if they are fit for use. If not, the reason is recorded on the system, e.g., a battery needs charging or a new bulb is require, etc. The RFID solution also manages the mechanical and PATT equipment testing by providing an automated maintenance schedule and the system can run and print reports for jobs that are imminent. With this system, Thames Valley Police have eliminated the paperwork previously required for this process. As Thames Valley Police get used to their TROVAN RFID system they are already beginning to see other areas where the technology can provide benefits- including registering valued items for the public.