Estonia's e-police system is based on the principle that providing the best possible communication and coordination will lead to the most effective policing.
It involves two main tools: a mobile workstation installed in each patrol car, and a positioning system that shows headquarters each officers' location and status.
Installed in every patrol car, a mobile workstation gives officers in the field nearly instantaneous access to vital information. At a traffic stop, when the officer runs a check on a driver, they're accessing the police's own database as well as:
- The Motor Vehicle Registration Center, for data on the driving license, vehicle, owner/user and technical inspection information
- The Traffic Insurance Fund, to see if the driver has a valid policy
- The Population Register, for basic data on the person such as place of residence, photograph and telephone number
- The Weapons Register, to see whether the driver has any registered weapons
In fact the police could potentially access a dozen relevant databases, and the system is integrated with the Schengen Zone's information system, allowing them to see if the vehicle is stolen or if the driver is wanted in another country.
Whereas earlier, these queries were handled over the radio and typically took 15 to 20 minutes, now they take as little as 2 seconds. The difference allows officers more time answer calls, resulting in more effective policing.
The Positioning System gives the operations center real-time information about the location and status of each patrol vehicle. This information is clearly displayed on a map, making it easy for commanders to send the closest vehicle whenever a call comes in, thereby improving response time.
Approximately 17,000 queries are made in the e-police system each day, each averaging 2 seconds.This makes police work 50 times more effective.