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Alumni Helping Bring Next-Gen Law Enforcement to an Agency Near You

December 14, 2015

Motorola Randy Ekl

Helping Public Safety: Alumni Randy Ekl (left) and Bruce Mueller are directors of divisions within Motorola Solutions’ Chief Technology Office that’s helping bring technology advances to law enforcement.

We’re getting closer to possibly replicating the Hollywood-themed RoboCop—a part-human, part-robot police officer—as public safety departments across the country become armed with an arsenal of high-tech tools for smarter ways to keep their communities safe and their officers secure. And, Rose-Hulman alumni are behind many of these advancements in crime-fighting.

The Connected Police Officer, part of Motorola Solution’s Next Generation Public Safety program, features smart belts with sensors that detect when a gun or Taser is pulled from the holster; smart glasses to capture crime scene images and provide text messages from dispatchers; and drone technology to provide broadband connectivity and a birds-eye view of crime and fire scenes.

Aspects of this technology were developed by Randy Ekl, a 1983 electrical engineering/computer science/mathematics alumnus, and Bruce Mueller, a 1987 electrical engineering graduate. Ekl is director of advanced systems technology and Mueller is director of wireless research in the Chief Technology Office led by senior director Bruce Oberlies, a 1982 electrical engineering alumnus, at Motorola Solutions’ offices in Schaumburg, Illinois. This trio has earned 70 patents for advancing technological projects.

“Where there is a need for safety and helping officers do their job better, that’s where we’re looking to provide assistance,” says Ekl, leader of the team on the smartbelt project. “The key is keeping officers clearly focused on what’s happening in front of them, and keeping them connected with others that can provide valuable assistance, if necessary. Every second is crucial in these intense situations. Hopefully, we’re giving them the ability to do their jobs better.”

Motorola -smart -glasses

Connected Police Officer smart glasses

Mueller adds, “Ultimately, at the end of the day, we want every police officer to come home to his or her family safely.”

Motorola recently began field-testing the Connected Police Officer smart glasses along with the belt features; these won’t be available until 2016. Customized high-tech consoles have been sold to a few law enforcement agencies. The drone-based project may offer the most promise. It has been demonstrated for some departments, and showcased at public safety trade shows, while elements of a public safety Long-Term Evolution (LTE) base station are being tested by first responders within the City of Calgary, Canada, and providing police with high-speed broadband capabilities to quickly access data, images, and videos. “We see public-safety technology getting better and better. These tools put police officers on the street where they need to be, and where they want to be,” says Mueller.