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Mayor Faulconer, Chief Zimmerman Announce New Technology to Modernize Police Helicopters

New AT&T Tool Developed for San Diego Will Bring Internet & GPS to Helicopters, Can Be Model for Cities Across the Country


Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - NEWS RELEASE

San Diego – With police helicopters behind them ready for takeoff, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman and representatives from AT&T showcased new technology that makes it easier for San Diego Police Department helicopter pilots to communicate with ground support.

The collaboration brings internet service to police helicopters for the first time. The highly-secure network provides police with a more efficient way for two-way communication and provide the GPS locations of the helicopters while in flight.

“When police officers are protecting our communities, I want to make sure they have the best technology at their disposal,” Mayor Faulconer said. “This idea came directly from our one of our officers and AT&T was enthusiastic about working with us to make it a reality. This now gives officers in the air powerful new tools to keep our neighborhoods safe.”

The police department uses its Airborne Law Enforcement helicopter fleet to protect San Diegans as crime or other events unfold. Previously, tactical flight officers were unable to access the department’s computer-aided dispatch system that provides officers on the ground with up-to-date information about evolving incidents.   

“With the help of AT&T, we’re able to bring innovation and efficiency to our City’s finest and improve services to all San Diegans,” Chief Zimmerman said. “Our ‘Connected Copters’ are just the latest example of how we can make our city better through technology.”

The new technology can help officers locate and track the helicopters while airborne using the helicopter’s onboard GPS. It also logs and provides post-flight mission reporting, which includes helicopter coverage trails and flight paths to use in response to citizens’ noise complaints.

“When it comes to public safety, communication is critical,” said Chris Roy, vice president, AT&T Government and Education. “With the San Diego Police Department, we saw a real opportunity to literally take our connectivity to new heights. We’re delivering the meaningful innovations they need to better serve the communities where we live and work.”

The AT&T wireless LTE network and specially-designed, highly-secure internet connectivity now lets the tactical flight officers wirelessly connect ruggedized tablets to police communications and dispatch systems while in the air. Upon completing their mission, airborne police can use the AT&T technology to follow-up on older or overdue calls. They can handle cases that rely on visual inspection like damaged property or a vehicle report, freeing up officers on the ground to respond to other calls.

CONTACT: Jen Lebron at (619) 384-5289 or [email protected]

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