An iPad preparing to fight crime

Call the iPolice: iPads and smartphones could help fight crime

Smartphones and tablet PCs such as iPads could be used by police officers to help solve crimes faster and more cheaply, according to Dr Mohamed Gaber of the University of Portsmouth's School of Computing.

Dr Gaber told an international conference on ‘Tools with Artificial Intelligence’ that combining the power and wireless facilities of smartphones to collect and process information quickly, rather than relying on centralised computers, could revolutionise crime fighting, mobile healthcare and live business intelligence.

Dr Gaber’s research could pave the way for the first mobile tool for collecting and streaming large amounts of information over the internet.

The combined processing power of mobile phones could also be used to monitor people's health more quickly and more cheaply than existing methods allow.

Dr Gaber said: “This is the first time a method has been found to stream information collected from smartphones working together. Imagine police officers equipped with smart phones that can capture all the sensory information in a crime scene such as fingerprints and digital images - all the data could be analysed locally and the results could be fused together in real-time to give them some insights and knowledge.

“We have discovered that we can get excellent results with as few as eight mobile phones being used together, where each phone handles a maximum of 40 per cent of the all the possible measurements.

“It is the combination of the power and the acquired data on each device that would make the difference. In fact, one smartphone can do the whole process if it has all the features of the data. However, it is more realistic to assume that each individual can see only part of the picture and collectively we can see the whole picture.”

Dr Gaber also suggested that the processing power of smartphones could be used in mobile health care: “Different mobile devices that measure different physiological signs and symptoms such as ECG, blood pressure and body temperature could be fused together to assess the patient. This could help elderly people and those with chronic diseases to travel and go shopping without being worried.

“Also, patients could use their mobile phones anytime anywhere to monitor their condition and automatically have messages sent through their phone to the emergency department or the doctor if the patient's condition is getting critical and requires immediate treatment.”

The mobile phone data-streaming process does not interfere with the phones’ normal use and calls can be made and SMS texts sent and read: the owner just has to agree to allow their phone's processing power to be used in the background.

One key difference between using mobile streaming data mining as opposed to sending all the information back to a centralised computer is that the information is localised and the speed of processing can be faster and significantly cheaper.

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