Copenhagen police turn to Macs


As the world descends on Copenhagen this week for the United Nations Climate Change conference, the city's police must manage protests, secure world leaders, and handle all the other issues that come with a major global event.

Perhaps surprisingly, the force is doing it with Macs.

The Danish Police Department isn't using Apple computers on the go, or keeping in touch with iPhones. No, the entire central command is now run by Mac Pros and Mac Minis, with not a single PC to be seen.

The Danish police force has been using Macs since 1996, running NeXTStep. But five years ago, the force needed to upgrade, as spare parts were becoming scarce.

It started looking around at what systems other countries were running, even touring the UK to find a setup that was innovative enough to catch the force's eye.

It didn't find one. Anywhere.

Karsten Hjgaard, Police Inspector and the driving force behind the upgrade, told IT PRO: "We were looking at the leading [systems] on the European Market to see what they were able to do for us we didn't like it and went back empty handed."

Then, two years ago, with the United Nations Climate Change conference looming, a decision needed to be made. The force's previous supplier Frontline suggested creating a bespoke system using Macs.

The system

Running since mid-July, the new bespoke Mac-based system uses 25 Mac Pros and 73 Minis.

Copenhagen Police Mac Minis

The operations room features 14 workstations, with each hooked up to multiple large displays.

Because the system lets operators be more efficient, the Danish department uses a third fewer call takers than other forces in Europe. Shifts of six to eight people using 14 workstations are all the city of 1.2 million needs to take 800 to 1,200 emergency policing calls.

"When we were looking around [for a system] we have been almost everywhere in the UK we saw some problems with the speed of how they did things. It's not very fast in the US either," he said.

"We have compared them well, and they very much look alike," Hjgaard said.

"It takes a lot of human resources to produce the same amount of call cards. We use eight people. In Kent and Surrey and Glasgow, they use 30, 40, 50," he added.