UAPD/FBI Crisis Negotiation Team - Throw Phone (Year 2)

Project number: 
UA Police Department/FBI, supported by the Craig M Berge Dean's Community Fund
Academic year: 

Police negotiators are often restricted to communicating with barricaded subjects through a "throw phone," which is an audio device that's typically thrown into a structure and relies on the subject inside to pick up the phone’s receiver to initiate communication with negotiators. The Pelican-style box that contains the system is usually attached to about 200 yards of cable that runs to an armored microphone and speaker. These legacy systems take significant time to set up and provide limited utility, features, and versatility. The size and weight make them difficult to transport, and the cables and wires often become tangled or damaged. This cumbersome design also creates officer safety issues, as it requires an officer to get close enough to where the subject is barricaded to throw it inside. Additionally, throw phones often provide low-quality audio.

Scope: (1) Work directly with end-users, Team Leaders of the UAPD and FBI Crisis Negotiation Teams, to understand the strengths and limitations of the communication systems currently in use by police negotiators. (2) Evaluate existing communication devices in use by negotiators at critical incidents and continue research, development, and innovation from the previous year's project. (3) Develop features for the recording of audio and video data for both live stream and evidence preservation. (4) Test communication system for survivability in various environments and use cases. (5) Present regular updates and testing results to Team Leaders with the FBI and UAPD, including at the FBI Crisis Negotiation School. (6) Apply for and obtain a patent on behalf of the University of Arizona. (7) As a team, produce a system that is ready for final stages of sale and production in the market.

Note: In its first year of development, the UAPD/FBI Throw Phone team won the following Project Awards:
- Most Innovative Engineering Design
- Best Use of Prototyping

The team also received Award Nominations for:
- Best Consideration of the End User
- Best Use of Human Factors Engineering
- Best Video Capturing the Project Story
- Perseverance and Recovery

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