Skip to Main Content
Access your saved content
Integrated in the investigation and tracking system is an interface to the Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BKA).
In Germany, the police force falls under the responsibility of each individual federal state, with all 16 states reporting to the BKA, the Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation. In 2001, after some years of preparation and an earlier, unsuccessful attempt to switch to a new system, the BKA announced it was discontinuing the use of its legacy search system from the 1970s and launching the new search system called "INPOL-neu." The BKA believed that the adoption of new technology was a critical step toward reaching a national goal of unifying the various and disparate software applications and information technology (IT) systems of the German police force throughout the country.
The change drove a new mandate from the BKA requiring all state police organizations to be able to connect their local search systems with the federal system by August 2003. The state police organizations were given a choice on how to proceed with the federal requirement—to use either the central search system developed by the BKA or to develop a solution of their own.
The Department of Police of the seventh-largest state, Rheinland-Pfalz, also known for its famous wines and the beautiful Rhine River valley, was faced with deciding what direction to take. The new mandate was a catalyst for the department to consider revamping its two main aging information systems: a search system and a case management system.
Both systems were dated and difficult to use, leaving most of the 10,000-some police officers across 130 departments relying on slow and inefficient IT systems instead. Updating the existing search system was also one way to create the mandatory interface with the BKA central search system.
The central search system solution offered by the BKA consisted of an Oracle database operating on Hewlett-Packard Unix, which for Rheinland-Pfalz, as a Microsoft-based state, did not initially seem like a good fit. The solution would have required new resources and the investment in a large server in which to store raw data that would have to be replicated from all the 16 states—an approach Rheinland-Pfalz considered to be inefficient, costly and cumbersome.
"We decided to develop the central search system based on Microsoft technology including the SQL Server 2000 database using the .NET Framework within one year instead of incorporating an Oracle and Java-based system," says Matthias Bongarth, chief project lead from the Rheinland-Pfalz Ministry of Interior and Sport, which includes the Department of Police. "With our statewide Microsoft infrastructure already in place, the .NET solution proved to be the most cost-effective and flexible choice for us."
Another option—common with police applications—was the application of open source systems. The team at the Ministry evaluated this direction as well. On the surface, they determined opting for an operating system without great licensing costs seemed advantageous. But other factors, such as security, which was critical, came into play.
"We needed a secure system, and one that is also supported. Some of the questions we asked, for instance, were how stable are the database systems using the open source operating system? And is this sufficient to handle the more than 10 million data records? Not all of this could be answered with a clear yes," notes Bongarth.
In May 2002, the Rheinland-Pfalz Department of Police turned to a joint team of Accenture and Microsoft consultants to kick off the development of the new systems with a team representing 10 different police organizations throughout Rheinland-Pfalz.
The reasons the police department selected Accenture were our proven experience in managing large projects and demonstrated experience in the area of functional design. Accenture's role was to focus on teaming with the officers to enhance functional designs and perform functional testing. Microsoft was responsible for the technical architecture, development and technical tests.
The solution consisted of re-implementing the department's existing applications to address the functional needs of different types of police organizations and to be much more intuitive to use. The guiding philosophy was to keep what was good about the old applications, but to make them reflect today's police work and the actual way in which police officers work. Accenture helped to design the new systems, combining the police requirements with newest Web-based technology.
Teams were set up for the two main systems. One team focused on the state's search system, with which police search for people or stolen objects. The other focused on a case management system that handles an officer's daily needs of documenting traffic accidents, ticket charges and missing persons.
The updated applications were designed to operate on the .NET framework using Microsoft's Windows 2000 Active Directory infrastructure, newly released at the time. A central component of the Windows platform, Active Directory, provides the means to manage the identities and relationships that make up network environments.
Every department in the state will be set up with its own SQL Server database to allow each department to operate the case management system in a decentralized way. The search system, on the other hand, was set up to run on a central server that hosts the data from all the departments. Using Windows 2000 Active Directory, the high security requirements of the police could be addressed.
In an innovative twist on the standard application development approach, Accenture and Microsoft created a third team from their respective organizations to develop the common functions between the two systems and serve as the foundation for the overall solution. This approach saved time by constructing single solutions for "standard" components such as log-ins, authorizations, protocols, security measures and a common technical library for both systems, thus avoiding having to implement these components twice.
Reducing development time was critical in helping to address the aggressive deadline of one year. The approach also freed up functional and technical developers to focus on their tasks at hand and enabled both systems to be more easily integrated with each other.
Two Systems, One Sign-onOne of the first steps was to design a single sign-on front end by using Active Directory. This feature in itself was an improvement over the old systems in that it allows officers to simply log on to seemingly one system for any task they need to perform without having to log out of one to go into another system. Transparent to users are two independent but integrated systems behind the front end.
The case management system replaces the use of paper-based forms and improves the functionality of the 32 different types of incidents to be recorded, such as traffic accidents, reports of a missing person, reports of an offense, arrests, processing of charges, summons, examinations and the like.
Representative officers from every type of police unit—city, river guard, technical, riot, rural and the like—from all parts of the state came to Mainz to work side by side with the team to provide input on their real, everyday needs. The resulting application reflects what information needs to be captured. From the beginning, Accenture helped to plan, together with police officers, a communications plan to get all the different departments involved, mainly through meetings and actual application demonstrations at the project location or at police departments throughout the state.
A priority goal Accenture set for the re-implementation project was to make information entry easy and to save time by eliminating redundant activities. The officers were adamant about a "write once and use many times" approach.
"We wanted the case management system that we use for the documentation of traffic accidents and thefts to be interlinked with our central search system," states the Ministry's Ralf Stoll, Police Major and associate chief project lead. "The Accenture/Microsoft team created an interface that allows us to have a person transferred into our central search system once he has been entered in our case management system." Previously, officers would have to enter information twice to search the same information in both systems.
The search system was enhanced to include easier navigation, enhanced functionality and the ability to more efficiently query and house search records. The response time over the department's wide area network at a workstation for 11 million records is now under two seconds and more than 90 percent of all searches occur in less than one second. With the enhanced system, search results, such as a person's general data and more detailed attributes, can now be more easily copied into the case management system for future use. And, as required, the team helped establish the new interface with the BKA system that allows for data to be exchanged via an XML-based interface.
The XML Web services interface is designed to enable departments to more easily share data with each other and with the new federal central search system than was previously done through mainframes. So, for example, depending on the information from the case management system, an officer can transfer data to the search system. The search system then automatically checks the plausibility of the data against more than 1,000 rules and sends the relevant data to the BKA.
"The use of Web services means that police-relevant data can be exchanged without any interruptions or risks of falsification—easy, fast and comfortable," says Uwe Lamacz of the Ministry's Lead Software Development Team. "This is one of the major advantages of the .NET technology." In addition, implementing a Web-based solution was seen as helping to provide a solid investment for the foreseeable future and complementing the department's other information systems.
Advantages of .NETHaving a Microsoft .NET foundation enabled the department to easily connect to a third system, a central traffic information system, which was also a Web-based .NET application. For the first time, with the use of mobile Pocket PCs, police officers on patrol can check relevant license numbers while having all the necessary information available. Developing this mobile solution demonstrated again the advantage of the .NET technology in that the user front-end can easily and quickly be adapted to a mobile component.
In one year, the Accenture/Microsoft team had the new systems successfully tested and up and running—three months ahead of the BKA changeover and the first of all states to be connected. Rollout across all 130 police locations in Rheinland-Pfalz is simplified by having only one server for each location, which also helps to keep maintenance costs low. Acceptance of the system was high and so easy to use that training needs were minimal.
The ease and speed at which developers were able to deliver results with Microsoft .NET won over many Rheinland-Pfalz officials. Says Chief Project Lead Bongarth, "I can say without any exaggeration that the implementation of .NET and Visual Studio .NET—this entire development environment—has totally changed my outlook on software development. I would recommend it to others."
"The speed of this development and the quality of the applications demonstrate that we chose the right technology," notes the project's Associate Chief Lead Stoll. What makes the overall system innovative is its ability to exchange information from different applications while maintaining strict security.
The Rheinland-Pfalz Department of Police has taken an important step in the adoption of modern technology. The enhanced applications have reduced the amount of time police officers need to spend logging information, giving them more time to patrol the streets instead of being behind desks. The updated systems give officers better access to traffic accident information, criminal statistics and geographical police information.
With the .NET technology, the enhanced set of systems holds the potential to be integrated with other systems in the future. A police portal for Rheinland-Pfalz, for example, could include a training management system, and a broader management information system that connects with higher levels of the country's police organization.
Rheinland-Pfalz's success has not gone unnoticed. Interest is great among the German states, the military and even is spreading beyond to other countries.
Health & Public Service Client Success Maps
Explore our Health, Human Services, Defense and Public Safety, and Public Service and Government client success maps to learn about where we are helping clients around the world deliver more effective, efficient and affordable solutions.
Learn more on Twitter by searching #ACNSuccess
Skip Footer Links