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January 11, 2017
Making digital disruption benefit Public Safety
By: James Slessor

You may feel that digital disruption is a phrase you’ve heard once too often already—but it is more than just a soundbite and there are good reasons to take it seriously. When we surveyed of 165 public safety technology leaders recently, we found that financial constraints, increased citizen expectations and the need to modernize operations are their three biggest challenges—all of which can be eased by using digital technologies.

And it’s not all about technologies either. Being truly digital means public safety agencies must question existing processes, develop new operating models and reshape traditional workforces. If they do, they can fast-track proactive, preventative policing that’s aligned to citizens’ needs and expectations.

Although 90 percent of public safety leaders have a high awareness of technologies such as analytics and predictive modelling, awareness is not the same as full-blown adoption. Implementation barriers include outdated IT legacy systems, lack of internal skills and not having the right talent to realize impactful change—interestingly only half of public safety respondents said they had adapted their organizational models to take advantage of new technologies.

Of course there are role models: Seattle Police Department is implementing analytics solutions to improve its level of insight around their workforce to make better-informed decisions, and in the United Kingdom the Metropolitan Police Service in London has looked at predictive analytics technologies to target gang crime in the city, and West Midlands Police is using analytics to better understand criminal networks and support police investigations. Public safety agencies in France, Singapore and elsewhere have seen the benefits of video analytics in the policing of urban areas and public events—however, only 30 percent of surveyed leaders said they were piloting this type of digital technology.

So whether it’s taking action to do more to take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT), where sensor-based and geotagging capabilities can pave the way for the truly connected officer providing real-time support in the field, or using artificial intelligence, such as the Dubai police department’s announcement to integrate robots as part of day-to-day policing efforts by 2020, digital can both support and create more informed and effective officers and improve officer safety.

As we work with police forces around the world, I recommend three steps to turn digital disruption to digital transformation:

  1. Employ digital platforms: Almost one-third (32 percent) of public safety agencies said citizens are better informed about technology than their own organization. The advantages of using a digital platform where information can be accessed and shared should not be underestimated.

    Technology agnostic platforms enable different components to be brought together, allowing collaboration, partnership and the generation of new insights. All areas of public safety planning and operations can benefit from the smart use of data and analytics to enhance insights and support evidence-based decision making.

  2. Collaborate to innovate: Three-quarters of survey respondents said they study successful implementations of intelligent technologies from the private sector, and 65 percent have teamed with the private sector to meet citizens’ demands.

    Collaborations with universities, research centers and innovative organizations can help generate ideas and aid adoption. Building new relationships and partner ecosystems with organizations who have “been there and done that” with new technologies can also speed up the process of innovation.

  3. Employ the right workforce: Public Safety leaders understand the need to get the right workforce, and that their workforce will evolve. They are looking at new areas of recruitment; priority areas include: digital developers and designers, as well as data scientists.

    Also almost half of respondents said their recruitment strategy also combines private and public sector talent, showing successful policing requires a diverse range of talents. Importantly, 85 percent of public safety leaders said their intelligent technology projects will have a positive impact on augmenting the workforce of the future.

There’s never been a better time to couple public safety with digital technologies to prevent crime, reduce demand and positively empower the wider criminal justice system.

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See this post on LinkedIn: Making digital disruption work

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