Smartphones are increasingly becoming a key tool for public safety officers to access computer-aided dispatch and other critical information in the field. But could today’s powerful smartphones eventually replace in-vehicle laptops and other computer terminals within the department?

At the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Philadelphia, I asked that question of three public safety technology experts: City of Post Falls Police Chief Scot Haug, law enforcement veteran Dale Stockton, and Samsung’s Jan Ruderman.

In particular, we discussed the potential of Samsung’s DeX, a docking station that allows the smartphone to be extended into a desktop experience, to replace the in-car computer and streamline public safety workflows in the field.

“DeX is really an opportunity for us to provide an improved workflow for the officer,” explained Ruderman, Samsung’s public safety practice leader. “At the end of the shift when the officer has reports to write, today they’ll be limited to their vehicle for the most part. With the DeX solution, they can complete reports in the vehicle or they can take their smartphone from the DeX station in the car, return to the department and dock in again at a shared DeX terminal.”

Haug believed another benefit of a smartphone-powered in-vehicle computer is the cost savings for IT, achieved by reducing the number of devices issued to officers. “I really believe that the smartphone is going to be the tool that the law enforcement officer has — it can do [both] the computing and the communicating for the officer in the field.”

For Stockton, providing access to computer-aided dispatch (CAD) outside of the vehicle is key to empowering officers in the field. “When you have a device like DeX that gives you access within the car and allows you to take that access outside the car, now you no longer anchor the officer to the car. Most police leaders today are saying get out of the car and engage with the public.”

Learn more about Samsung’s mobile solutions for public safety.