A command vehicle with detailed terrain mapping technology (pTRACK) helped find the remains of a long-missing girl this week. The search was resumed mainly due to suitable climatic conditions.
The first sharp deployment of the inconspicuous van took place a few days ago during demonstrations in Nový Bydžov, but the police have been testing the car for several months. At the moment, it has a total of four of these vehicles available, which are in Ostrava, Ústí nad Labem, Pilsen and Prague.
When tracking and searching the lost people, the most important source of the mobile unit is the GPS in modules (KIM & LOM) that police officers have with them in the field. The data is then wirelessly transmitted to the command vehicle using the Matra coded system. Here they can not only be processed in the form of a graphical representation of the position of individuals or groups, but also saved for future evaluation (MOBILITY Client).
“In the case of the missing girl, according to the analysis of the collected information, the criminal service defined an area in triangle measuring approximately 800 x 800 meters, which was gradually systematically searched, using a new system…” said Jiří Stejskal, deputy head of the law enforcement unit.
The date of the renewed search operation was not set at random. “The current climatic conditions are optimal for field research. Now, after the watering and before the start of vegetation growth, changes in the terrain are best to seen…” adds Jiří Stejskal. The site of the find lay on the edge of one of the designated areas, and if it had not been discovered now, the police would have returned to it later. And it was thanks to the accurately mapping of movement of the search team that new command vehicle used.
A tailor-made van on a Mercedes chassis is not so exceptional in itself, the technologies hidden inside are especially important. The basis is a control workplace for six people equipped with three screens that receive data from many different sources. When tracking and searching the lost people, the most important source of the mobile unit is the GPS in modules (KIM & LOM) that police officers have with them in the field. The data is then wirelessly transmitted to the command vehicle using the Matra coded system. Here they can not only be processed in the form of a graphical representation of the position of individuals or groups, but also saved for future evaluation (MOBILITY Client).
Any map base can be used to display the current location and routes of individual members of the search team. The police use not only their internal applications with map data, but also the popular Google Earth, which, thanks to its high-quality satellite images, is used for accurate display and configuration of the terrain. The main benefit of the search system is the fact that searchers do not return to a place by mistake again, but systematically search the entire site.
However, this does not mean that the police discovered the GPS systems only now. Until now, police used other mobile units that integrated both the GPS receiver and the current position transmitter. However, due to the complexity, it was a relatively expensive device, which prevented a wider deployment, which is necessary in the search operations.
This new system works a little differently. The basis is again a unit equipped with a current position transmitter, which transmits data to the control vehicle, to the commanders’ offices or, for example, to their portable devices. However, this unit, which is usually carried by the commander of one group, can be wirelessly connected to up to sixty other units, which only determine their current position and do not have a transmitter for sending data to the Matra system. Thanks to this, the whole system is significantly cheaper and there is nothing to prevent it from being equipped with a GPS unit by practically every police officer who takes part in the intervention.
However, the use of the car is very versatile and can be used practically everywhere where it is appropriate to have an up-to-date overview of the position of police officers in the field. It doesn’t have to be just people, the wireless GPS unit can be used by police dogs or cars. “Data of the position of people or dogs can be supplemented, for example, with the current heart rate and thus have an overview of the health status of units in the field…” added Tomáš Hrubý, a police technician of information technology.
The car can receive data not only from mobile GPS units, but also from other systems. The current position of the units, complete with a shot from the helicopter’s camera, can thus appear side by side on the screen. There is also the possibility of access to police databases, such as search or administrative data.