UAPD/FBI Crisis Negotiation Team - Throw Phone

Project number: 
UA Police Department/FBI, supported by the Craig M Berge Dean's Community Fund
Academic year: 
During hostage situations, SWAT teams toss “throw phones” into buildings and encourage hostage-takers to initiate communication with a negotiator at a remote command center. These phones must be rugged, reliable and provide clear communication. However, the current 20-year-old system is hard-wired, cumbersome and intimidating to hostage-takers.

The team has advanced the technology to a more robust, reliable and friendly wireless solution. The solution consists of two major components, the throw phone and the command module. The design utilizes a 4G cellular network to ensure wireless connectivity and full-duplex communication across long distances. Low-light cameras controlled by a multiplexor provide video surveillance of the phone’s surroundings. Audio and video data is wirelessly sent over antennas, processed by a Raspberry Pi microcontroller and recorded onto a micro SD card capable of storing over six hours of audio and video footage. The data can then be quickly uploaded to an external thumb drive. All the components are contained in hard and soft plastic casing that is rugged enough to withstand throwing through windows.

Results of the project have shown the system provides real-time audio and video and a clear line of communication from as far as 300 feet for up to six hours. The device has proven to be nonintimidating to focus groups, which invites users to pick up and handle the phone without worry.

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