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Efficient, effective, practical: the digital policing transformation

by Steve Norris: Managing Partner, Criminal Justice and Emergency Services, Telefónica UK

Last week, the Police Superintendents’ Association Annual Conference showcased a variety of digital capabilities that can help Police be more visible and effective while reducing costs. The question is, are we ready to grasp the opportunity?

O2 worked with Kable to research the topic of digital policing and produced a report, Police and the Multi-Agency Digital Transformation; Are You Ready?, outlining some key trends, opportunities and challenges. For starters, many people have an oversimplified view of the how this transformation becomes a reality. Surely equipping policemen and women with smartphones would be the first, most logical step? However the myriad of systems that these devices connect to, across the 45 police forces in the UK, presents an immediate challenge. Although there are some commonalities across the systems used, such as Niche RMS and Steria’s Storm Command & Control, the versions used vary throughout the forces – making integration much harder for suppliers.

Plus, cost efficiency is still a major challenge. In November, the Comprehensive Spending Review will cut Police budgets even further with estimated cuts somewhere between 25 and 40%[1]. Another issue, and in my view the most important, is ensuring that these processes can be implemented and accessed in a safe and secure way. Due to the sensitive nature of the work police forces do, processes can be extremely complex and even vary between forces. So, if these are the barriers, what can we do to overcome them?

Well for starters, there are Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASHs). These provide secure access to the Police National Database (PND) and other confidential databases for police forces operating within the MASH. This enables real-time flow of information without the need for costly gateway architecture. This is just one example of how embracing technology, and working in a new way, has already started to benefit the Police.

But at O2, we want to take this further. We want to help police forces be ahead of the game and lead the way in transforming the service they deliver to citizens. We believe that technology has a key role in improving old and developing new ways of working and sharing data. Ultimately, we want to do what we can to help police forces across Britain be as efficient and effective as possible. So if you want to know more, make sure you read our report.

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/31/police-force-new-spending-cuts-22000-jobs

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