Chicago Police Department trials Samsung DeX in-vehicle solution leveraging Galaxy smartphones
Chicago police personnel in one district of the city are participating in a pilot program with the Samsung DeX in-vehicle platform, which uses the compute power of a docked Samsung Galaxy smartphone to create a “desktop experience” within the vehicle that is designed to increase officer efficiency at significantly less cost than a traditional laptop setup.
“The entire concept here is to take everything that is available to officers in the office and put it literally at their fingertips,” Jonathan Lewin, chief of Chicago Police Department Technical Services, said during a press conference announcing the Samsung DeX pilot program. “We think this is going to save officer time, improve officer safety, increase efficiency, save money and provide a platform for growth in the future.”
When a Samsung Galaxy smartphone is docked in the DeX platform—complete with a touch-screen monitor, keyboard and mouse—the smartphone’s processor can be used to power the computing capability of the in-vehicle solution in a manner that is similar to working on a desktop at the department’s headquarters, according to Reg Jones, Samsung Electronics America’s director of public-sector and mobile-enterprise sales.
“It means you can now rely on one smartphone as the central compute for your entire workspace,” Jones said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “For a police officer, what that means is that they can use their Galaxy smartphone when they are in the field, when they are in their vehicle and when they are in the station.”
This unified environment with the DeX platform is very different than the experiences that officers traditionally have experienced while attempting to complete compute-related tasks in the field or within a department vehicle, Jones said.
“Without DeX, those are two completely separate ecosystems—they require separate hardware and are separate experiences,” he said. “With DeX, it’s the same hardware with the same security platform and the same applications, and that’s what is really critical here.”
Indeed, the DeX platform is designed to let officers continue to work on a given task—for instance, gathering evidence, conducting a database query or inputting information into a report—regardless of their location, bolstered by the Samsung Knox customization and security platform, according to Jones.
“As you’re working in DeX and you undock your Galaxy smartphone by sliding it out of the cradle, all of the work is still live on the smartphone,” Jones said. “You can continue working and accessing those databases without any change. There is no need to log in, there is no need to re-authenticate, there is no need to save and find your files again. The session is still live.
“It’s 100% seamless.”
Jones said the DeX platform also is designed to fit into the tight budgets of public-safety agencies, particularly when compared to a traditional in-vehicle computing system that requires a rugged laptop and mounting equipment that typically cost between $4,500 to as much as $8,000.
In contrast, a typical in-vehicle DeX environment includes a tablet or touchscreen monitor with 10-inch or 12-inch display that costs about $700, a rugged keyboard with an estimated price of about $350, a rugged mount for the Galaxy smartphone that typically costs about $400, and a Galaxy smartphone, Jones said. The Galaxy smartphone has a list price of $799.
“So, all in, it’s a $2,300 scenario versus a $4,500 scenario,” Jones said. “If you’re working with one of the major carriers in the country—Verizon, FirstNet or any of the others—it’s likely that your Samsung smartphone is subsidized, if you’re buying it through the carrier.”
In fact, agencies can purchase a Galaxy S9 smartphone from Verizon or FirstNet at a cost of just 99 cents, which makes the economics of the DeX in-vehicle platform even more appealing, according to Jones.
“That’s $1,500 versus $4,500—$3,000 of cost savings,” he said. “So, for [the cost of] one setup of a rugged laptop, I now can do three setups of a Galaxy DeX in-car.”
There are other benefits associated with the DeX platform. Technically, officers could carry their rugged laptops with them when they leave their vehicles, but doing so typically is not practical, according to Lewin.
“The main difference is mobility,” Lewin said. “Officers don’t take this [hardened laptop] out of the car for obvious reasons—it’s just too heavy.”
Jones echoed this sentiment, noting that docking and undocking the Galaxy smartphone within the DeX platform can be done quickly. Meanwhile, docking the smartphone in the DeX environment charges the phone while supporting many functional benefits, he said.
“You can have the phone screen working at the same time as the monitor screen. So, instead of merging everything into one screen, you can actually keep your phone—with a lit screen—working as your phone, as it powers and gives all the data to a monitor that is showing you your desktop mode at the same time.
“So, you can really have two screens working for you—a desktop screen that is powered by the smartphone and a smartphone screen that looks and feels like a smartphone is supposed to. I can simultaneously type on a keyboard that is connected to the monitor … and I can touch the smartphone screen, activate a phone call, send a text message and do it with the different points of input showing up on the different screens simultaneously.”
Some public-safety officials who have seen the DeX platform have indicated that they would prefer that the smartphone could connect to the in-vehicle work-station environment wirelessly, but Jones said the docking setup is much more robust.
“We’ve had some questions from some other industry partners over the last year and a half, and some agencies really wanted a wireless scenario,” Jones said. “I appreciate why they wanted a wireless scenario; however, the realities of technology require that the best experience is wired, because it allows us to ensure that the battery is being charged simultaneously, so that any time the officers get out of their vehicles, they have a fully charged smartphone—and that’s absolutely critical.
“It also allows us better data throughput. And better data throughput on a wired connection—without argument—is the best way to get the best content rendering from an image on the monitor, as well as the ability for us to all of these dual-screen, multiple-input scenarios. So, a wired connection, you have to have it—and it’s a good thing. It’s not a hindrance; it’s what you want.”