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When do we give Police Officers phones with decent cameras?

Have a look at that screenshot there. It’s from yesterday’s online London Telegraph story about the twins who were reportedly mauled by a fox.

The blurry picture you see was taken by one of the first police officers to arrive at the family’s home. It shows a crazily blurred image of a fox. Or perhaps a fox cub. Well, it looks generally like a fox.

It’s so blurred, though, you can’t really make much out.

Look at the door panes too. Blurred. Rubbish.

I think it’s excellent that the police officer had the presence of mind to snap a shot on his phone.

But it’s simply ridiculous that he or she has clearly had to use a bollocks handset with a rubbish camera to take the photo. If I had to guess, I’d say it was a BlackBerry camera. The 9700’s camera is a lot better now, but the 9000 or similar can be super-blurry in the wrong conditions.

There are, of course, serious issues with police officers taking photos.

Is the photo they’ve just snapped evidence? Can it be reliably traced to their handset and their location? Can it be used in court? Can it be used as circumstantial perspective by a jury? Does it prove there was a fox at the house when the police arrived?

There’s a whole host of issues here.

First, though: Get a better camera on the phone. An N86 would, for example, have delivered a decent snap. It might have needed the flash too, but it would have been viewable.

Second? Well, it’s time to get in touch with Pierre and his team at Handheld PCs. They’ve create a super service thus:

They offer a service by the name of Hand-e-Pix. And it’s a piece of genius. It enables mobile device photography to be timestamped and geo-located and managed securely using an organisation’s Active Directory policies. So organisations like Police forces, local councils, traffic wardens, civil engineering firms and so on — they can now enable their people to use the cameras on their corporate handsets. The implications of this are vast.

I’m quoting from a post I published on Mobile Developer TV late last year after I filmed an interview with Pierre at RIM’s European Alliance event.

Here’s the interview:


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By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

6 replies on “When do we give Police Officers phones with decent cameras?”

hang on, that photo is credited to PA – that makes it look like the copper sold the photo on to them for a fee. Do we really want the police earning additional income from selling photos of crime scenes?

I was wondering about that too John. Perhaps it wasn't sold to PA; but one imagines that PA are being paid a good collective amount each year for their services by the Telegraph.

Sorry, if the police need to take pictures they should have cameras. You'll never get a phone camera which is as good as one where there is decent space for the lens.

Every phone is a battle of compromises: what marketing wants (more megapixels), what the operator wants (cheaper), what the industrial designers want (thinner) and somewhere, way down the line what the imaging people within the handset manufacturer wants: something which gives the best image. If it's expensive, thick or uses fewer megapixels to get more light to each one on the sensor they don't have a chance.

A phone is the wrong tool for the job.

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