Mobile Technology and Action Teams

Assessing BlackBerry Use in Law Enforcement Units

by Susan G. Straus, Tora K. Bikson, Edward Balkovich, John F. Pane

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This research explores the effectiveness of mobile wireless information and communication technologies (ICTs) for law enforcement teams. Pilot trials of RIM BlackBerries in two U.S. law enforcement organizations provided an opportunity to assess acceptance, use, and perceived performance benefits as well as factors influencing these outcomes. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews, user surveys, and system logs. Although the work teams and tasks were similar in the two organizations, the outcomes, while generally positive, differed markedly. Results illustrate how mobile wireless ICT can meet the unique needs of action teams and the particular importance of technical factors, functionality, and implementation processes in deploying a technology to support rapid information access, communication, and coordination. The authors expect that these findings will generalize beyond action teams as more mobile workers in a variety of domains adopt wireless handheld technologies.

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