Police forces, fire crews and paramedics throughout Britain may soon be provided with a Samsung smartphone as part of their work.
The South Korean technology firm signed a contract with the government last year which will grant them the opportunity to supply 250,000 handsets to establish a new emergency communications network for the country.
The contract, which is a three-year deal with the option of a one-year extension and could be worth £210 million, involves the country’s emergency services being delivered with toughened, water-resistant 4G smartphones.
As a result, police officers can feed live video back to their headquarters, fire crews can download building blueprints ahead of tackling a blaze, paramedics can access patient records and all emergency service personnel can access the internet while on duty.
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On top of all of this, each smartphone will be designed with a unique “push to talk” button that grants users the opportunity to communicate instantly without being required to dial a phone number.
Smartphones have provided us with so many benefits. The concept has taken a mobile phone from being merely a device for making calls and sending text messages to gadgets which serve as nimble handheld cameras, portable TV screens and on-the-go internet browsers — to name just a few of their features.
It’s not just members of the public who have benefitted from smartphones, as the devices have also made the lives of those in the emergency services easier. Join TORRO Cases, suppliers of stylish and practical genuine leather phone cases and iPhone 7 cases to Cleveland Fire Brigade, as they explain a few reasons why…
Mobile fingerprint scanners
Fingerprints are an important means of identifying someone, though police have long faced problems where this form of identification is concerned. This is because officers who wanted to clarify someone’s identity were required to take that person into police custody, where they can then take fingerprints.
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While this process could take several hours, a revolutionary system using smartphones reduces this time to mere minutes. It can also be completed on the street as opposed to taking an individual to a police station.
The system in question works by officers taking scans of the tips of two fingers, with this initial scan checked against more detailed scans that the police have on record — a cross reference of approximately 12 million records found in national criminal and immigration fingerprint databases. Should a match be established, the police will be receive details of a person’s name, their date of birth and other information crucial to their identification.
Clive Poulton helped to manage the creation of the system at the Home Office, which has been in development since early 2017 and was initially trialed by West Yorkshire Police before being rolled out to its officers in the form of 250 scanners. Mr Poulton states that officers will only use the system when they are unable to identify someone by any other means, though the technology could also be applied to identify an individual who is unconscious, requiring medical treatment or deceased.
West Yorkshire Police chief inspector Ian Williams has welcomed the scanners, pointing out to WIRED: “Most of the people we deal with from a criminal point of view tend not to carry anything with them that would identify them.”
Emergency SOS feature on smartphones
So far, we have talked about how smartphones can help those in the emergency services. But what about instances when people need to get in touch with the emergency services themselves?
Emergency SOS is a safety feature that is built into many modern smartphones that allows you to call for help discreetly, share your location or lock down your device.
The Emergency SOS feature can be activated on iPhone devices with the iOS 11 software update by following these steps:
- Go to the Settings app on your smartphone and select Emergency SOS.
- Enable Auto Call.
- Switch on Also Works with 5 Clicks if given the prompt.
- Select Set Up Emergency Contacts in Health and state who you want your location sent to.
Once all of these steps have been followed, you’ll be able to contact the emergency services via 112, send out your location to emergency contacts and deactivate your smartphone’s Touch ID feature just by pressing your device’s power button five times when it’s locked. For iPhone 8 users, these features can be accessed by holding down the power button and one of the volume buttons at the same time.
If you own a Samsung Galaxy, the equivalent to the Emergency SOS feature can be activated by:
- Going to the Settings app on your smartphone and selecting Privacy and Security.
- Selecting Send SOS Messages and ensuring it’s toggled to ON.
- Switching on both Attach pictures and Attach audio recording.
Once activated, you only need to press the power button on your smartphone three times to send a text or voice message to emergency contacts, as well as informing them of your precise location and sending them a photo directly from your device’s camera.