The above is a screen shot of a google map of central London showing in real time the locations of underground trains. You can actually see them move and by clicking on them more information is available. The link is here. I thank John Lahr, a former work colleague for drawing it to my attention.
It occurred to me that a similar website of uniform police vehicle locations and movements is also possible. Police vehicles have mobile data terminals that transmit GPS signals every 15 seconds. I have some of the data that I have plotted for Camden Borough.
This map shows all the locations for a 24 hour period on Saturday 20th March 2010.
The above three maps show the hours of 21, 22, 23 00 hours, some of the busiest times in the week. It may surprise people how little cover there is.
What is not being shown is foot patrols. GPS signals are transmitted from foot patrolling officers personal radios but not stored so I have no access to that data. But it is feasible to plot both vehicle and foot patrols in real time.
Before you cynical people send me to an institution for the criminally naive on the basis that this would give the offenders all the information they need to commit crime undetected let us examine the facts. What is the purpose of police officers patrolling in uniform, often with high visibility jackets, and in livery vehicles with flashing lights and sirens? It is of course to be seen. The purpose of overt policing is to to be identifiable, to prevent crime, to reassure and to engage with the public. There is of course a role too for covert policing.
The more I think about it the more sensible it becomes.............................................................