Sunday, June 17, 2007

Police Radio

As technological interoperability improves, so we are faced with interoperability problems at a higher level.

The latest illustration of this comes in a story about the new UK police Airwave system, which provides a common communication platform for police forces across the country. It turns out that these communications are hindered by the use of regional dialects and accents, as well as local slang. Having spent £2.9 billion on new radios, the government will now spend an extra £25,000 training policemen to talk proper.

And more succinctly. It seems the system can't support long rambling conversations. NIPA, the government agency responsible for "improving" the police, worries that "regional phrases might take much longer to say than a clipped national term". Presumably the slow drawl of a rural policeman will have to be replaced by a rapid urban patter.

Technological interoperability should be taken for granted (NOT "a thing of the past", as I originally posted) - although the price tag for the Airwave system reminds us that significant investment is still required to achieve this. But technological interoperability is never enough - it merely creates the opportunity to start work on new modes of collaboration and interoperability at the semantic level.

Police Cautioned Over Loose Talk. Sunday Telegraph, June 17th 2007.

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