Maryland Researchers Test Mobile Digital Systems Equipment

June 15, 2007
Unit tested for ruggedness for law enforcement

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A police officer races to a crime scene and leaps out of the car to respond. Miles away, officers at the station watch on a live video feed, see danger and speed reinforcements to the site.

The new video system enabling this response, designed by Annapolis, Md.-based Mobile Digital Systems Inc. (MDS) began undergoing physical ruggedness evaluation by University of Maryland researchers this week through Maryland Industrial Partnerships funding, program officials announce today.

Comprised of two video cameras, a trunk-based wireless computer and advanced software, MDS' system-developed initially for police-could reduce crime, serve as evidence in criminal prosecution, and improve compliance to procedures.

"Our system has the potential to increase public safety by monitoring the activity surrounding police vehicles," said Angela Corrieri, chief executive officer of MDS. "But we need to know our products will endure the bumps and crashes typical of police pursuits while continuing to record events."

The University's Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE), an international leader in electronics reliability testing, will analyze MDS' system in high temperatures and humidity, as well as during shock, vibration, and drop scenarios.

CALCE Director and Mechanical Engineering Professor Michael Pecht, Research Assistant Anshul Shrivastava, and Research Associate Diganta Das will use data they collect to determine the life cycle of the system and predict its reliability under environmental stress.

Police face over 30,000 civil actions filed against them every year, with between four to eight percent of them resulting in verdicts unfavorable to law enforcement, according to Tom O'Connor, program manager of criminal justice and homeland security at Austin Peay State University. Jury awards average $2 million.

MDS' system indexes everything it records by seven or more parameters, including time, date, location and name of the officer on duty-data useful for trial evidence, as well as for filing reports, training new officers, and identifying trends in police activity.

Optional sensors loaded on the system can detect speed, acceleration, location, temperature, ion change and chemicals, making it useful for threat identification.

Data can be streamed in real-time through any wireless format, including radio, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, and satellite. Officers receive information as it happens, enabling them to make decisions and deploy resources rapidly.

Each MDS system is tailored to the needs of a specific client. "Users can decide which actions trigger recording," Corrieri explained. "It can begin when an officer switches on a body microphone, or when the overhead lights on a police car turn on, launching synchronized video, sound and environmental data collection."

MDS is also developing a wearable video camera with similar capabilities.

Police departments in Fremont, Calif. and Washington, D.C. are currently using the company's equipment. The Los Angeles Police Department has successfully tested MDS' products. The company plans to expand into both the public transportation and military markets.

MDS' partners include Northrop Grumman, as well as public safety, fire, government and military organizations.

The company is presenting at the MIT Enterprise Forum of Baltimore- Washington's StartupLab on June 19.

CALCE's clients include Honeywell, Raytheon, Rolls-Royce, Boeing, General Motors and military organizations.