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updated: 3/12/2014 6:13 PM

Carpentersville police, fire vehicles could be hotspots on wheels

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  • The consumer-grade USB Internet card on the left of the laptop is what Carpentersville's IT department is looking to replace on police and fire department laptops with mobile gateways.

      The consumer-grade USB Internet card on the left of the laptop is what Carpentersville's IT department is looking to replace on police and fire department laptops with mobile gateways.
    Photo courtesy of Kevin Goethals

 
 

A technology under consideration in Carpentersville would offer stronger Internet connections for laptops in squad cars and fire department vehicles, but also would turn them into hot spots on wheels.

The technology, called mobile gateways, is estimated to cost $31,000, a fee that includes equipment and installation, said IT Director Kevin Goethals.

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It involves mounting a modem in the trunk and running a cable from it to the antenna atop the public safety vehicle, thus boosting its Internet connection.

"It's something I that I feel as the IT director needs to get done," Goethals said Wednesday. "It's something that's way overdue."

The new technology would provide a more reliable cellular signal, would better withstand extreme temperatures and vehicle vibrations and hopefully cut down on dropped signals, Goethals said.

It would also have the capacity to link other mobile devices to the connection in the vehicle, which could be beneficial at the scene of a crime, Goethals said.

The devices would replace the consumer-grade USB Internet cards and modems that both departments have used for laptops in 27 vehicles for three years. They result in at least one help desk request a week over connectivity issues, Goethals said.

The older technology results in frequently dropped Internet connections that force police officers and fire personnel to reboot their laptops and start over, or to finish writing their reports from the station.

Public Safety Director Al Popp said it's a matter of efficiency, since the lost connections sometimes result in a delay of filing reports.

He said the public is not in any danger when the equipment fails, because both departments rely on radio dispatchers.

For example, if the connection is lost on a laptop while an a police officer is looking up someone's criminal history, the officer can ask a dispatcher to look it up and read it over the radio.

"Nobody's put in peril over the loss of connectivity," Popp said. "Because we are voice-dispatched, we can communicate. It's just we don't have the information as readily or expeditiously available as we'd like to have it."

If the village board approves Goethals' request, he hopes to have the new mobile gateways installed by the end of the summer.

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