Transforming police workforce planning from gut instinct to hard facts

Chief Johnson1 had a problem. His force was under political pressure from City Hall to cut funding, but at the same time, extend the force’s scope of services. His divisional leads all had forceful arguments why their teams shouldn’t be cut. Tempers were running high.
In the face of so many conflicting needs, the chief of police needed to find a way to get to the facts. We worked with the force to create a data-driven model that could substantiate the number of resources required to meet the demand for the services that the politicians wanted. And the politicians, based on the facts, had to decide which services should be cut.

Show me the facts

This provided the impetus for us to create Capacity Planning for Policing (CPP) – the first and still only one of its type in the market. This data-driven, AI powered solution helps police departments to assess, monitor and deploy optimal levels of resources in line with available funding and mission objectives. By ingesting all relevant data, the tool provides a clear view of resources required to meet current and changing demand. In one current deployment we’ve used data from 20+ systems, including a million records of command and control data. The result? More than 800 independent variables that collectively represent the organisation’s business. And with data visualisation offering planners user-friendly access, they no longer need data scientists to get real benefits from analytics.

What if?

CPP can also address changes in the police’s operating context, from new policies to demographics, from legislation to changes in employment. For example, police have used CPP to address the challenge of a second international airport being built in their city. They had to decide whether to upgrade an existing police station; open an additional station on the airport premises; or consolidate two nearby stations into a new location. Our solution was used to quantify the pros and cons of each option using key variables including predicted passenger volumes, increased movement of heavy goods vehicles and required security patrols.

Making the case for change

It’s not simply external changes that the tool can analyse. In an era where the nature of work is changing rapidly and new technologies such as video analytics are introduced, CPP is able to model the impact of productivity enhancements and changes in skills for effective workforce planning. And, in organisations where accountability for key decisions is often deferred up the chain of command, it informs productive, evidence-based discussions about the case for change.

A smarter way forward

We are also collaborating with clients to leverage AI to more accurately project future states and make better decisions today. CPP now includes predictive models to forecast how crime rates are likely to change so organizations can better anticipate and plan for future workloads. We’re also integrating advanced algorithms to optimize resource allocation and customise shift patterns that take into account the unique needs of any time or location, including special events such as large sporting events or demonstrations that require additional resources to be prioritised.

Chief Johnson understood that he had to respond to the pressures he faced not with gut instinct, but with facts. CPP gave him what he needed. Many other police forces are benefiting from the ability to harness multiple types of data to support their planning for current and future workforce needs. And as the power of the solution continues to evolve, even more leaders will be able to move from hoping they have the right answers to knowing they have.

1 Not his real name

Tim Godwin

Managing Director – Global Public Safety and Justice

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