The in-car setup of my patrol vehicle has become distracting and impacts my situational awareness while I am on duty. This is a statement heard all the time at Cyberkar from their police customers. As frontline police officers are asked to adopt and learn more and more technology in their patrol vehicle, it must add to the stress and mental health of an officer in the execution of their day-to-day activities. In addition, as more and more components get installed in the cabin of the patrol vehicle, these components may possibly be mounted in a way that prevents the airbags from saving an officer’s life. To address these issues, Cyberkar provides simple, safe, and secure technology solutions that optimize the day-to day operational health and safety of the frontline police officer and first responder in the patrol vehicle. Cyberkar solutions enable more efficient officer use of technology in the patrol car by integrating with existing emergency and IT solutions installed in the vehicle. Cyberkar is a proud supplier to the law enforcement industry. Cyberkar is the manufacturer of the Kommander brand of in-vehicle technology hardware solutions and the RedAlert interactive software application, creating a more effective mobile office in the patrol vehicle.
2. VEHICLE ERGONOMICS AND OFFICER SAFETY
Cyberkar is dedicated to helping police service agencies, for which they have the greatest respect, passion, and experience. Today’s officers are spending more time leveraging the existing cabin workspace in their emergency response vehicles. This cabin workspace has evolved to be equipped with an increasing number of technology solutions, thus limiting the available cabin workspace for the officer to use.
One of Cyberkar’s core beliefs is that it is important to develop safe and ergonomic solutions for emergency response vehicles. They strive to optimize installations, bearing in mind that officers will use the solution provided for long hours in the restricted cabin workspace environment that is the vehicle. It is important for Cyberkar to offer an ergonomic workspace environment so that officers have greater efficiency and productivity in their work, better health and well-being, and more satisfaction performing their duties. Cyberkar provides solutions that contribute to increased productivity of employees, while reducing any work disruptions resulting from emergency response vehicle accidents or collisions.
In the design of its solutions, Cyberkar has leveraged its expertise both in IT and emergency equipment installation and configuration of public safety vehicles. With this in mind, the Kommander solution by Cyberkar provides an in-car ergonomic officer experience and Mobile Data Computer (MDC) workspace environment for law enforcement and public safety agencies.
Cyberkar developed Kommander based on feedback from police officers across North America along with scientific studies on the subject of in-car officer comfort, health, and safety (see Figures 1 and 2).
FIGURE 1 ANGLES OF COMFORT IN A SEATING POSITION IN A PATROL CAR – SIDE VIEW
Studies show that 37 percent of police officers polled in 2017 indicated that they have experienced body pain within the last year using traditional in-car mounted laptop systems. 87 percent of these police officers identified lower back pain in the driving position or sitting for long periods of time in a duty vehicle as the main causes of their pain. Police vehicle crash tests performed by a large law enforcement agency showed that there is a much greater “crush” factor between the door and center console during a vehicle side collision. The agency’s recommendation to the vehicle industry was that anything mounted in a duty vehicle between the front cabin seats now requires to be installed lower than the seat height.
FIGURE 2 ANGLES OF COMFORT IN A SEATING POSITION IN A PATROL CAR – TOP VIEW
AVAILABLE CAB SPACE DOES MATTER
The mounting of rugged laptops and tablets in squad cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and other public safety vehicles has its pros and cons. These devices are removable, but that portability comes at the cost of adding a mounted docking station in the vehicle. Because laptops and tablets are not designed specifically for law enforcement in-car applications, other electronic devices are required in parallel to complete the system – adding complexity, taking up space, and increasing overall agency costs.
RELIABILITY AND SAFETY
The extra components required also mean that there are additional wiring connection points in the vehicle, which reduces reliability. Even when secured in a docking station, a laptop can become a projectile hazard when the airbags are deployed. An impact of the airbag slamming into the laptop can cause it to close on the occupant’s hands or break free from the docking station.
The typical mounting of Mobile Data Terminals (MDT) and rugged computers in duty vehicles, specifically mounted on the center cabin console, require the officer to twist his or her back in order to use the keyboard for typing in events and accident reports, thus limiting the officer’s movement in the front cabin and potentially causing short- and long-term health issues.
HOW CAN KOMMANDER HELP?
PRIORITIZED OFFICE SAFETY
Many public safety organizations are realizing that there are better alternatives to fixed, mounted, integrated touchscreen displays in duty vehicles. By permanently mounting a computer into the vehicle dashboard frame, Kommander is a much safer officer option during a collision. Furthermore, because Kommander is embedded in the dashboard, it is one of the few solutions that does not interfere with the duty vehicle’s airbag deployment zones. In addition, permanent vehicle mounting allows Kommander to have a direct interface to the vehicle at all times. Kommander has access to duty vehicle information from the engine computer, sensors, actuators, cameras, and antennas.
OUTSIDE THE VEHICLE AIRBAG DEPLOYMENT ZONES
Police vehicle manufacturers continue to advise that driver/passenger vehicle airbags affect the way police equipment can be mounted in police vehicles. In general, the mounting of emergency or other technology equipment must not interfere with driver visibility nor interfere with the deployment of the vehicle’s airbags.
Any surfaces or equipment that could come in contact with an airbag during deployment must not damage the airbag or alter its deployment path. The deployment of airbags is not compatible with any configuration of police equipment mounting that places objects in the airbag deployment path. Equipment mounted or placed in the deployment area of an airbag will reduce the effectiveness of the airbag, damage the airbag, and potentially damage or dislodge the equipment. Failure to follow this guideline could result in serious personal injury to the police officer.
The abovementioned advisory was taken into consideration in the design of Cyberkar’s Kommander solution components.
By eliminating the need for the in-car mount and docking of touchscreens and computers (laptops, tablets, smartphones), Kommander uses dramatically less cabin space compared to a mounted computer laptop or a tablet solution – where in some cases, access to an entire seat in the front cabin can be reclaimed. In fact, as the Kommander computer and touchscreen display is embedded in the dashboard, precious space is freed up between the front seats, giving more room for the officer while still offering a large and comfortable work environment.
The technology within the Kommander solution was developed to keep an officer’s hands, elbows, arms, head, neck, and shoulders in a comfortable ergonomic position with less or no movement while executing his or her tasks. Kommander offers a large, swiveling 12-inch touchscreen display for maximum officer viewing and working comfort. (see Figure 3)
FIGURE 3 BLIND SPOT IN FRONT OF THE PATROL CAR AND THE OPTIMAL CONE OF VISIBILITY
Because each police service is different, Kommander can be customized and optimized for each law enforcement work environment. Kommander makes the work environment as simple and user-friendly as possible.
RELIABILITY AND SAFETY
The Kommander rugged in-dashboard computer is made for in-car use, compliant to ISO-16750 standards. It can be used in harsh environments from –40F (-40C) up to 185F (+85C) temperatures and have a five-year mean time before failure (MTBF). Expected operational life is 10 years. All the vehicle, machinery, and industrial environmental criteria is quality tested by a worldwide member of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).
The non-necessity of a computer docking station, a fully integrated feature set, a unique aggregated sealed cabling, and the robust military-grade design all combine to give the Kommander solution significantly higher reliability over today’s traditional mounted and docked rugged computer solutions.
3. THE KOMMANDER SOLUTION
Kommander is an advanced, technology-rich, aftermarket in-dash and mobile workplace platform for police duty vehicles providing officers with an efficient operational workspace that maximizes officer comfort, health, and safety in the vehicle. Cyberkar currently has Kommander design configurations for Ford, Dodge, and Chevrolet police duty vehicles.
Traditionally mounted display and computer installations take up space in the vehicle and require the officer to twist his or her neck and back in order to access the keyboard and computer for typing in events and reports, thus limiting officer’s movement in the vehicle and potentially causing short- and long-term health issues.
Many law enforcement agencies are realizing that permanently mounted integrated smart displays are the beneficial alternative. By permanently mounting a touchscreen display and computer to the vehicle frame within the dashboard and freeing up cabin space, Kommander is a much safer solution in case of an accident/collision. Furthermore, because Kommander is embedded in the dashboard, it is one of the few solutions that does not interfere with the vehicle airbag deployment zones. In addition, the permanent vehicle mounting means Kommander always has a direct interface to vehicle components such as the engine computer, sensors, actuators, cameras, and antennas.
Transferable Between Vehicles
Kommander components are designed to be transferable from one model of duty vehicle to another. Consider the scenario where an agency installs Kommander in a Dodge Charger (sedan model) duty vehicle and keeps the vehicle for typical service duration of time (say three years) before retiring the vehicle. After the three years, no major reinvestment in the same technology is required by the agency, since the Kommander mechanism can be transferred from the Dodge Charger duty vehicle being retired and installed in a new Ford Interceptor SUV model duty vehicle. Only a small cost for a replacement vehicle-specific Kommander plastic dash trim kit for the new Ford SUV model duty vehicle is needed. Kommander comes with a standard two-year warranty with an extended low cost 10-year warranty payable annually to protect your investment.
Current Kommander supported police model duty vehicles are the Ford Interceptor (sedan, SUV, and F-150 models), the Dodge Charger, and the Chevy Tahoe. Kommander for other police model duty vehicles are under development consideration based on customer demand.
5. KOMMANDER COMPONENTS
Kommander In-Dash Mounting System
The foundation of the Kommander solution is the Kommander in-dash trim and swivel mechanism. The solution is designed to lower in-car officer operational stress by making it simple for officers to operate in-car technology. The solution offers a centralized in-car officer command center where a touchscreen, docking station, or tablet can be mounted as well as a mobile keyboard.
The solution is designed and maximizes officer workspace efficiency with overall officer comfort, health, and safety in mind. The footprint of the solution frees up vehicle cabin space and is out of the damaging airbag deployment zone in case of a vehicle collision where mount components can dislodge, endangering officers. The solution is designed to minimize distractions by automating officer tasks while operating a police vehicle, allowing officers to focus and keep their eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel when needed.
There are three Kommander setup bundles (LITE, BASE, and PRO) from which to choose.
Kommander LITE version:
The Kommander LITE version is available where agencies can leverage the officer in-car benefits of the Kommander swivel touchscreen embedded in the dashboard. The 12-inch touchscreen delivers 1400 nits of brightness for superior readability in sunlight and can be used with an existing IT computer investment of an installed rugged tablet/laptop/smartphone. For maximum officer health and safety, we suggest that all in-cabin vehicular components (screens, docking stations, tablets/laptops/smartphones, etc.) be installed securely outside the vehicle airbag deployment zones, as these components can become dangerous projectiles to officers when vehicle airbags are deployed during a collision. The Kommander LITE version also includes a mobile keyboard. The Kommander Lite version comes optionally with the RedAlert menu software, providing officers with centralized control and quick access of agency IT applications in the vehicle.
Kommander BASE version
The Kommander BASE version is the Kommander LITE solution with the optional Kommander rugged Windows 10 computer included. The Kommander rugged computer has a small form factor and is embedded in the dashboard, freeing up valuable cabin space, complex wiring, and servicing time in the vehicle. The Kommander rugged computer is built for vehicle wear and tear and vibration, has two embedded LTE modem ports, and connection to the vehicle OBDII data network for vehicle telemetry data. The Kommander BASE version comes with the RedAlert menu software, giving officers centralized control and quick access of agency IT applications when they are in the vehicle.
Kommander PRO version
The Kommander PRO version is the Kommander BASE solution plus offers officers centralized quick-access buttons to installed vehicular and IT technology directly from Kommander touchscreen buttons, steering wheel auxiliary buttons, and from the Kommander emergency lights and siren digital control pad. Kommander PRO is not vendor dependant and can be integrated into multiple vehicular technologies from various manufacturers (lightbars, sirens, in-car video, license plate readers, radar, etc.). Intelligent idle time management, run-lock mode, and automated anti-theft vehicle protection features are also part of Kommander PRO, contributing to carbon footprint and fuel savings. The Kommander PRO version comes with the RedAlert menu software, providing officers with centralized control and quick access of agency emergency equipment in the vehicle.
Rugged Keyboard Kit:
The Kommander Ergonomic Keyboard kit consists of a rugged keyboard, a quick-release keyboard tray, and a sliding motion attachment.
The entire motion attachment can rotate the keyboard 360 degrees and provides the attachment with 5.5 inches of a slide motion. This allows the printer to be in a comfortable position for either the driver or the passenger in the front vehicle cabin.
The quick-release keyboard tray has a push button lock for easy keyboard release to position the keyboard on your lap if desired. The push button has an incorporated key lock as a theft deterrent.
Cyberkar has tested and recommends four different rugged keyboards, each with different characteristics (chiclet versus rubber keys, backlit keys, etc.) for the optimum fit for the user.
Cyberkar Emergency Keypad with Joystick:
Cyberkar offers a customer programmable and compact emergency keypad with joystick as an option. This keypad can provide users with rapid-touch button access to Kommander connected functions (emergency lights, sirens, blackout mode, IT applications, etc.). The eight touch buttons are configurable with constant or slow flash illumination. The keypad is connected to the Kommander PRO auxiliary controller on the Kommander private CAN-bus vehicle network.
Cyberkar Mount-Ready Glove Box:
Cyberkar also offers a customized mount-ready glove box where a printer, a small removeable computer tablet and docking station, a fixed computer appliance, or other in-car components can be mounted on a raised custom mounting plate built into the Cyberkar glove box door.
The Cyberkar glove box option is currently available for Kommander supported police model vehicles. Having components in the Cyberkar glove box saves on interior cabin space and equipment install time. Mounting components in the glove box is out of the way of the vehicle airbag deployment zones and provides the safety needed for officers.
Cyberkar Headliner Console:
Cyberkar offers a customized mount-ready Cyberkar overhead angled ceiling (headliner) console where in-car components can be mounted for ergonomic access by officers.
The Cyberkar headliner console option is currently available for Kommander-supported police model vehicles. Having components in the Cyberkar headliner console saves on interior cabin space and equipment install time. Mounting components in the headliner console is out of the way of the vehicle airbag deployment zones and provides the safety needed for officers.
RedAlert Control Menu Software
Available with all Kommander versions, the RedAlert control menu software system offers large-format, on-screen menu buttons to virtually access and to seamlessly switch between various software applications on the computer in the vehicle, as well as external devices, emergency lights and sirens, and computer desktop controls (sound, volume, brightness, mute, blackout, etc.). RedAlert allows for intuitive on-screen navigation for the officer.
Your IT administrator controls how RedAlert is configured via the Kommander Builder RedAlert Config Application. The RedAlert user only has control and access to the RedAlert control software menu system and not directly to the computer in the vehicle itself. The user is permitted to use the RedAlert software and toggle between specified PC applications approved by the IT administrator. The IT administrator can also restrict the user access based on time of day, if the VPN is active, or during a scheduled maintenance. The RedAlert software can also block the user into that specific desktop environment, restricting the user to a permitted area of use.
RedAlert comes with pre-built menu page templates, but your IT administrator can create multiple RedAlert menu pages based on the needs of your agency and how you want the RedAlert user to interact with the system.
The RedAlert Event Manager feature allows the software to interact with the car by monitoring specific vehicle telemetry and with external vehicle equipment. The Event Manager allows the officer to “trigger” and “automate” specific redundant user task activities when a desired condition occurs. Example 1: When the rear prisoner door opens (RedAlert monitored telemetry info from the vehicle CAN-bus vehicle network), the prisoner back view camera is activated. Example 2: When a specific steering wheel button or horn is pressed (info via CAN-bus network), RedAlert activates and displays a specific desktop software application. All configurable by your IT administrator.