State troopers going wireless

Aether Systems Inc. has been awarded a $7 million deal to outfit the Pennsylvania

State Police's 1,600 patrol vehicles with software that enables wireless

access to criminal databases and electronic reporting.

"In effect, it allows the trooper to access 14 databases simultaneously

and get back an answer probably in about six seconds with information about

the vehicle, about the individual that's supposed to be in the vehicle,"

said Mike Mancuso, a group president of the Owings Mills, Md.-based company.

"It checks warrants, licenses, stolen vehicles and a variety of different

databases."

The deal is part of Pennsylvania's Incident Information Management System

(IIMS), a $123 million initiative to modernize the state's law enforcement.

IIMS was awarded to Lockheed Martin Management and Data Systems. Aether

is a subcontractor.

IIMS, which will take about four years to complete in phases, will upgrade

existing infrastructure to accommodate new computer-aided dispatch and geographic

information systems, reporting management systems, bar-coding technology

for processing evidence and mobile computer software, among other things.

The initiative has been in the works for about two years.

Aether will provide state police with Aether's PacketCluster Patrol

and PacketWriter products in vehicle-mounted laptop computers. PacketCluster

is designed to provide troopers with real-time silent communication between

offices and mobile units, and PacketWriter is intended to accelerate the

preparation of incident and accident reports and improve their accuracy.

Mancuso said that in the future, state police also could incorporate

another Aether product, PocketBlue, that enables troopers to access databases

and make reports via handheld devices.

He said the commonwealth plans to roll out the product in phases and

in certain barracks to see what troopers like and don't like.

"It's probably the most aggressive project going on right now in the

country from a police standpoint," he said of the project.

Most of Aether's thousand-plus clients are local law enforcement agencies,

Mancuso said, adding that state police departments tend to have more antiquated

technologies than local departments, probably as a result of longer purchase

cycles, lead times and other pressures. Local governments are more flexible

and faster in implementing new technologies than states.

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