PocketBlue walks D.C. beat

PocketBlue walks D.C. beat

Federal and local law enforcement agencies in the Washington area have accepted 90 handheld devices from Aether Systems Inc. of Marlborough, Mass., to test the PocketBlue program for real-time wireless communication.

PocketBlue runs on notebook PCs, Palm OS devices and Research in Motion's BlackBerry personal digital assistants. Some Palm units require a third-party wireless modem.

Officers can request data through PocketBlue about license plates, guns, people and stolen articles. The queries go simultaneously to the FBI's National Crime Information Center, the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System and the local motor vehicle authority.

Individuals and groups can send messages via Aether's network operation center. Only sworn law enforcement personnel can use the Cellular Digital Packet Data service, signing in with their user names, passwords and IP addresses.

If a device is stolen, the network operation center can turn off its IP address remotely. E-mail messages are encrypted via the new federal Advanced Encryption System.

Michael E. Layman, senior marketing manager for Aether Systems, said PocketBlue costs $89 per month per user for unlimited airtime and support. The Palm and BlackBerry units are not included.

The GCN Lab will review PocketBlue in a forthcoming issue.

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