Police technology is under pressure to support the responsive, agile and data-intensive policing that today’s society needs. There are multiple challenges; cybercriminals are growing increasingly sophisticated and invasive. Always-on citizens are generating enormous amounts of data. And funding is in short supply.

Collaboration provides the key

Responding isn’t easy – especially for forces running expensive legacy technology architectures. But there’s a way forward. And collaboration provides the key. A fast-growing number of innovative tech companies now offer point solutions in this space. And with the right partnering approach, they can make a huge difference.

An example? We’re working with two tech companies, Thoughtspot and Infoshare, to enable advanced search across massive datasets for the Metropolitan Police. The technology applications these companies bring – natural language processing and data management – are incredibly valuable. But you can’t just buy them and plug them in.

They need to be meshed with legacy infrastructures. That’s why systems integrators that can do this at scale have such an important role to play in these new collaborative partnerships – both in terms of assembling the right players and ensuring their solutions can be implemented rapidly, efficiently and with as much impact as possible.

More coordination nationwide

There are plenty of other bright spots, like Avon & Somerset Police, which is using the Qlik Sense Analytics Platform to visualize command centre operations data, as well as the National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS) being trialled by West Midlands Police.

To build further momentum, we need to see more coordination across police forces. Approaches like the Digital Policing Portfolio (DPP) represent a big step forward, with the DPP responsible for developing nationally consistent services and capabilities enabled by technology.

So does the Police ICT Company, which has implemented a strategy positioning the ICT as a facilitator of national programmes. And the National Enabling Programme (NEP), which has been rolling out a national Office 365 platform to UK police forces, along with the Single Online Home Solution.

These all show what can be achieved through increased collaboration. Technologies like AI and analytics have such huge potential for policing that it’s critical for forces to be able to take advantage of them as rapidly and cost-effectively as possible. Collaboration makes that possible.

Accelerating the journey

Another area for focus has to be regulation. Right now, the pace of technology change is so rapid that legislation and regulatory frameworks simply can’t keep up. We need a leaner, more agile framework.

Greater agility is essential. So is deeper cultural understanding on either side – between police forces and technology providers. In such a fast-moving, complex marketplace, forces need time to understand the benefits these new applications can provide.

They need to recognise that technology is always an enabler, never the solution. And they need to focus on the people aspect. That means understanding what the technology will enable their teams to do and how it will augment them.

Time for a joined-up approach

With greater collaboration and coordination, it will become much easier for CIOs and CTOs in UK police forces to tap into collective experience. That would mean quicker time to value and less duplication of effort.

For regulation to keep pace with technology change, government needs to look even more closely at the governance lifecycle. Across the supplier community, we all need to see how we can facilitate collaboration. And we also need to see innovative procurement approaches that can provide the right incentives to get partnerships moving.

There’s a lot still to do. But there’s plenty to be optimistic about. As this blog has shown, encouraging steps are being taken to help drive UK policing into the next phase of technology innovation. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Allan Fairley

Managing Director – Public Safety, United Kingdom

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