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Windsor police pilot local tech on bicycle fleet

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The Windsor Police Service (WPS) is deploying police on bicycles decked out with technology supplied by a local company.

“Policing has become a high-tech industry,” said Matt Caplin, the police service’s director of information technology, noting in the past, policing decisions were made based on experience and gut instincts, but today those decisions are being augmented by technology and data.

“Our organization from the top right down to the operational level is obsessed with data driven decision making and the adoption of technology helps with the accuracy of that data, and allows us to make better strategic and operational decisions,” he said.

But the bicycles in the fleet had a connectivity gap, said Caplin, one which was recently filled by a local tech company.

The technology was developed by local firm Monerus, which has entered into a one-year pilot project with WPS.

The tech sits in a box on the back of the bike, containing a Wi-Fi and 5G hub, which connects through satellites, providing real-time data back to police headquarters.

“These devices are kind of taking data and making sure that the police are able to make really smart decisions with it,” said Adam Castle, the director of venture services and partnerships at WE-Tech Alliance. “So even though the officer isn't spending their time communicating…you've got all of your equipment that's reporting for you.”

The team at WE-Tech Alliance helped connect Monerus with WPS, hoping their technology could be of value to Windsor police.

“This technology on this bicycle allows for another layer of connectivity and another layer of accuracy with respect to the data that we're collecting,” said Caplin. “So we will know where the officer is, where the bicycle is, what call for service they're on.”

The goal of the pilot is to make policing more efficient and better inform operational decision making.

With more officers posted in downtown Windsor now as part of the city’s “Strengthen the Core” initiative, there will be more cops on bikes using this tech.

“A couple of the advantages of having bicycle units is not only the visibility in the community, but our agility to patrol in a highly congested area like downtown Windsor,” said Caplin. “It provides a lot of flexibility to respond to calls and also just proactive policing.”

It’s also good for the company, which is a start-up looking to grow.

“It's not easy to get pilots as a small start-up. It's so incredibly hard but they're so valuable,” explained Castle. “Now that he's working with WPS, they can go to other police. They can go to Kitchener-Waterloo, they can go to the OPP and say, ‘Hey look, we have partners in this space that see value you should come on as partners too.’”

Monerus also provides the light bar and siren for the bicycles, an element that will be tested for sound levels and brightness throughout the pilot.

Two weeks into the pilot, Caplin said feedback has been positive, noting Windsor police will test the technology throughout the cycling season.

“And then in 2025, we can make some decisions and how we move forward with our bicycle fleet,” he said.

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