Despite large blackspots with no cellphone coverage in rural Northland, police are still confident iPhones and iPads, soon to be given to frontline staff, will boost crime fighting in the region.
The Government this week said a nationwide rollout of new technology would arm about 80 per cent of Northland's frontline staff - or about 262 - with the new tools from June.
Police will be able to check offenders' details on location instead of having to drive to a station to access information or use the police radio.
The tools would allow rural officers working large areas to save time by checking emails and information on their smartphone.
Northland cellphone blackspots no snag for iCops
It will free up staff time by half an hour a day, and I'm pretty excited.Russell Le Prou, superintendent They would avoid having to travel long distances to get to the station.
But cellphone coverage is patchy in Northland.
All devices would be password-protected and could be tracked and remotely locked or wiped if lost or stolen.
A police spokesman at national headquarters said: "The mobile technology that is being used is 3G and it won't function in areas without cellphone coverage, but in the blackspots standard means of communications, which are the police radio and landline phones, will continue to be used.
"The new technology doesn't replace communications, but is in addition to that. Officers will always be able to contact our communications centre using the police radio."
The Northland area District Commander, Superintendent Russell Le Prou, said the technology should give officers the ability to complete most of their work while out and about and make their job easier.
"Trials have shown that it will free up staff time by half an hour a day, and I'm pretty excited about this because it will give our staff the ability to be more proactive and focused on prevention," he said.
"It will enable staff to be more visible in our communities, be more efficient and effective in their work."
The technology had been trialled successfully in four areas.
Police would invest up to $4.3 million of capital expenditure and $159 million of operating expenditure from 2012/13 to 2023/24 to equip 6500 staff across the country with the technology.
Officers would use Apple iPhones and iPads at first, but the contract allowed them to change to other devices if better alternatives were developed.
Vodafone would be the police's telecommunications provider.
External communications manager for Vodafone Michelle Baguley said the blackspots in Northland were to do with terrain: "It's the hills and big trees that disrupt the coverage".
However, she believed 12 cellphone towers being built in Northland and the 42 being upgraded would improve broadband and mobile coverage. The new towers were part of the Government's Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).
"We are continually improving coverage, after this five-year plan [RBI] wherever it's needed we will continue improvements," she said.