British Association of Public Safety Officials / BAPCO Journal - Knowledge exchange by and for public safety professionals

British Association of Public Safety Communications Officials
Advanced search

You are in:


British APCO Journal A-Z Directory

03 September, 2008

With so many terms, acronyms and cutting-edge technologies being covered it can be difficult to keep up. The British APCO Journal's A-Z Directory brings you clear, concise information on as many of these terms as possible as well as providing links to more in-depth articles, providing you with a simple, straight-to-the-point reference page for anything and everything related
to the world of British APCO and beyond.


ACPO stands for the Association of Chief Police Officers and brings together all leading police officers its members are police officers who hold the rank of Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable or Assistant Chief Constable, or their equivalents, in the 44 forces of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, national police agencies and certain other forces in the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, and certain senior non-police staff. There are presently 280 members of ACPO. For more information visit their official website.


Airwave has the contract to supply mobile communication networks to the UK emergency services and public safety organisations. The Airwave TETRA network has been used during such high-profile incidents as 7/7, Glasgow Airport terrorist attack, and Buncefield and has proved to be a vast improvement on the systems that were in place before. Airwave has become a leading supplier of integrated solutions and services for secure and resilient mission critical communications – more can be found on their website.


ANPR stands for Automatic Number Plate Recognition and is a system whereby car number plates can be automatically scanned and passed through the relevant database to retrieve information on the vehicle and its owners. This can be done either by fixed roadside cameras or mobile cameras mounted in police cars.


The APA stands for the Association of Police Authorities. A police authority is an independent body made up of local people, including magistrates and local councilors. A PDF outlining the ’10 things you need to know about your police authority’ can be downloaded here, via the APA's official site.

BAPCO Journal

The BAPCO Journal is bi-monthly magazine for the emergency services and other organisations, dealing primarily with civil contingency and communications. There is also a bi-monthly e-newsletter with exclusive content not found in the magazine that is sent in the intervening months between the print publication – to receive this newsletter simply sign up here.

BAPCO President

The BAPCO president is a yearly elected role and Deputy Chief Constable Ian Readhead is the incumbent president.

BAPCO Regions

BAPCO is broken up into Scotland, North West & North Wales, North East, West Midlands, East Midlands & Anglia, South West & South Wales and South East & London. For a further break down, including contact details for the Chair and Secretart of each region, and details on upcoming events in those regions see the official BAPCO website here.


Biometrics is the term used to cover all forms of identification based on the unique elements of the human body – namely the eyes (specifically the iris), fingerprints, and palm-prints (beneath the wrists). For more information read this article from the July 2008 edition of BAPCO Journal.


Bluetooth is an open standard for wireless transmission of voice and data between mobile devices (PCs, handheld computers, telephone and printers.) It was named after Harald Bluetooth, a former Viking king of Denmark, who ruled in the 10th Century.


Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), is a system that allows the recording of events and incidents from fixed or mobile cameras. The cameras footage can then be watched, stored, and used in court to try and help prove, or disprove, events. The use of CCTV leads to much debate about its usefulness, the moral implications of a ‘surveillance society’ and just how useful it really is. This is a topic that the BAPCO Journal has covered previously, see here and here.


Digital Signal Processor. This is a circuit that is specially designed for digital signals in processor-intensive applications, such as wireless communications links and image processing. DSP circuits are often used in consumer products, such as mobile phones, faxes and digital TVs.


E112 is a location-enhanced version of 112 emergency call number. The telecom operator transmits the location information to the emergency centre. The EU Directive E112 (2003) requires mobile phone networks to provide emergency services with whatever information they have about the location a mobile call was made.


The eCall project is from the European Commission and aims to have all cars fitted with a ‘black box’ type device that can send information wirelessly, such as impact sensor information and GPS coordinates, to local emergency agencies in the event of an accident.Current obstacles includes communication protocols and language issues – as the project is designed to operates across the EU – but aim is to implement it by 2009. Some cars already have a form of SMS eCAll that can send information. BAPCO President Ian Readhead wrote an article on eCall for the May issue of BAPCO Journal that you can read here while it was also covered in the March issue here.


FiReControl is a project to reduce ce the number of regional control centres (RCCs) used to handle emergency calls for fire brigades and authorities. Presently there are 46 control rooms in England that handle calls from the local public for emergency assistance via the 999 system btu with FiReControl this would be reduced to nine. A new radio network - FireLink is being developed and built and it will be fully compatible with FiReControl. A recent BAPCO Journal Poll suggested information on the project was not being disseminated amongst members effectively.

More information can be found here on the Communities and Local Government website.

Flanagan Report

The Flanagan Report was published in February 2008 and looked at the growing role of technology in modern policing, making several key suggestions that have since been implemented. The entire report can be downloaded here, via the Home Office website, in PDF form.


Galileo is Europe’s satellite navigation system. When complete it will consist of a constellation of 30 satellites orbiting the earth at a height of 23,000 km in addition to a network of 35 base stations. Galileo is scheduled to become operational in 2013 and will be complementary of the current GPS system operated by the US.


The Global Positioning System (GPS) uses a constellation of between 24 and 32 Medium Earth Orbit satellites that transmit precise microwave signals, that enable GPS receivers to determine their current location, the time, and their velocity (including direction). GPS was developed by the United States Department of Defense and is managed by the United States Air Force 50th Space Wing.


Intelligent Speed Adaptation is a system which constantly monitors the local speed limit and the vehicle speed and implements an action when the vehicle is found to be exceeding the speed limit. This can be done through an advisory system, where the driver is warned, or through an active system where the driving systems of the vehicle are controlled automatically to reduce the vehicle’s speed. The system relies on accurate speed limit data being available. Although the best results, in terms of accident reduction, would be gained by mandating compulsory ISA systems in cars, the UK government is currently expecting ISA to be adopted by market forces.

Li-ion Battery

Lithium Ion batteries, to give them their full name, have been replacing Ni-Cad batteries for several years, their decreased weight and increased life, making them far more suited to help run the many electronic devices carried, in the main, by police officers. They don’t usually last as long as Ni-Cad batteries, around 450 charge cycles, compared to 700, but they often last for far longer per charge – around 22 hours as compared to eight. For an in-depth report on this, read this article from November’s BAPCO Journal.


Linux is an open source operating system within the Unix family. Because of its robustness and availability, Linux has won popularity in the open source community and among commercial application developers.

Mobile device

A mobile device (also known as handheld device or handheld computer) is a pocket-sized computing device, typically having a display screen with touch input or a miniature keyboard. In the case of the personal digital assistant (PDA) the input and output are combined into a touch-screen interface. Smartphones and PDAs are popular amongst those who require the assistance and convenience of a conventional computer, in environments where carrying one would not be practical.


A mobile data terminal (MDT) is a computerized device used in emergency vehicles to communicate with a central dispatch office. Mobile data terminals feature a screen on which to view information and a keyboard or keypad for entering information, and may be connected to various peripheral devices. MDTs may be simple display and keypad units, intended to be connected to a separate black-box or AVL computer. On the other end of the spectrum, MDTs may contain full, PC-equivalent hardware.


The National Policing Improvement Agency is an area of policing formed to replace the old police bodies of PITO (Police Information Technology Organisation) and Centrax that were seen as too dictatorial. It was official launched on April 1, 2007 and is responsible for all forces in England and Wales, but not Scotland. The NPIA has a budget of around £700m and looks at, among other things, CCTV, Airwave, Radio Spectrum, and the Police National Computer (PNC). One area that the NPIA doesn’t cover is technology delivery and managed systems for the police, which PITO did, but the areas it does cover continues to grow with the Proceeds Of Crime Centre the latest addition. You can visit their website here.


The NLPG (National Land and Property Gazetteer) is a databaseof the location of every building in the UK which is mapped to provide detailed information for the emergency services, namely the Fire Service, of the layout and sizes of properties and buildings. Visit their official website is here.


PDA stands for Personal Digital Assistant and is a device that is fast becoming a standard piece of equipment for emergency service workers across the UK. The devices generally feature a small keypad for typing, and can connect into the Internet and numerous databases, such as the Police National Computer (PNC), to gather information. The BAPCO Journal has looked at PDAs on the market in some detail before and these articles can be read here and here.

PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point)

PSAP stands for Public Safety Answering Point, or an emergency call centre. People calling 112 are connected to an operator of the nearest PSAP. Depending on the national civil protection body, the operator will either deal with the request directly or transfer it to one of the emergency services (ambulance, fire brigade, police).

Rugged computer

A rugged computer is a computer specifically designed to reliably operate in harsh usage environments and conditions, such as strong vibrations, extreme temperatures and wet or dusty conditions. They are designed from inception for the type of rough use typified by these conditions. They are made of magnesium alloy materials made to be 20 times stronger than standard plastic found on commercial laptops. Hard Disc Drives are shock mounted with foam or reinforcing material to withstand vibrations of daily use.

A common ruggedised classification is the IP Code (as set out by standard IEC 60529) international protection rating, which classifies the degrees of protection provided against the intrusion of solid objects, dust, accidental contact, and water in electrical enclosures. The Code consists of the letters IP followed by two digits and an optional letter. The standard aims to provide users more detailed information than vague marketing terms such as "waterproof".

The first digit (level 0 to 6) indicates conformity to certain conditions, with 6 (the highest) relating to no ingress of dust; complete protection against contact. The second digit refers to protection of the equipment inside the enclosure against harmful ingress of water. Level 8, the highest, relates to immersion beyond 1 m, where the equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions specified by the manufacturer.


Royal United Services Institute is a UK forum for national and international Defence and Security. Founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, RUSI is the oldest institute of its kind in the world. RUSI includes a Homeland Security and Resilience Department, which has now formalised its research into emergency response and crisis management with a Research Analyst in Emergency Management. RUSI has a monthly publication called Homeland Security and Resilience Monitor. Its website can be viewed here.

Safety spectrum

The European Commission has reserved 30 MHz of radio spectrum within the 5.9 Gigahertz (GHz) frequency band for use by emerging cooperative traffic systems. Member States are currently making allocations for use for road safety applications within their own domains.


A computer or software application that provides services to other computers connected via a network. The most common example is a file server that has a local disk and handles requests from clients to read and write files on
this disk.


SMS stands for Short Messaging Service and is more traditionally called a text message.


The use of telematics allows an exchange of information between the vehicle and external agencies. Examples of telematics in use are free-flow road tolling, pay as you drive motor insurance and vehicle tracking. In the context of public safety communications, a key deployment of telematics will be the eCall system. According to the European Commission this automatic emergency call system should result in a reduction in accident response times of about 50% in rural areas and up to 40% in urban areas.


VOIP stands for ‘Voice-over Internet Protocol’. This technology allows telephone conversations to take place over the internet, rather than a phone line, - just as Skype works. There are still many issues regarding its use and implementation for the emergency services, as this conference report from a BAPCO Conference in November 2007 outlines.


Something missing? Spotted an inaccuracy? Want to add a definition? Email Us and let us know!

Headlines from our related publications

To Receive a FREE news bulletin simply enter your email address below

To Receive a FREE news bulletin simply enter your email address below


"Are you confident the Emergency Services Network will be delivered successfully and on time?"