Few would have predicted 40 years ago that more people would now have access to a mobile phone than running water. But mobile technologies are so much a part of our lives today that there is a growing expectation from both citizens and employees that our personal and professional lives should “be mobile.”
The use of mobile technology in a policing context is far from new. From early police officer radios to the current mobile data terminals and fingerprint devices, police services continue to explore how technology can make them safer and more effective. Yet the future of mobile technology in policing goes well beyond access to information—it is about empowering police officers by enabling real-time, two-way access to information of better quality and in multiple formats, whether that is using body-worn cameras or accessing the cloud at a crime scene.
Based on interviews conducted by Accenture with police services around the world, and drawing on our experience in delivering mobile technology to many industries globally, we set out a vision for the next generation of mobile technology in policing. Our discussions reveal:
Ambition is not in short supply
Officers and police leaders see the value in using and embracing mobile technology for policing. Mobile technology projects, initiatives and strategies already exist within many police services and there is a visible desire to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of officers through use of this technology—the challenge is in how best to achieve it.
Officers as innovators is key
Success relies on the partnership of technology innovators and the practical reality of the officers on the ground. Mobile technology has the potential to alter the way police officers and staff work if they:
Innovate to do things differently: Police services need to push boundaries with pioneering ideas while being practical and focused at the same time, providing desired policing capabilities through devices that are intuitive to use and robust enough for the job.
Consider the “art of the possible”: Police services cannot expect to realize the total value of change from implementing technology alone. Along with pioneering technology initiatives, the police need to fundamentally change their business processes and be prepared to “think differently” to realize the desired benefits of using mobile technology.
Courage confronts challenges
Police services are faced with significant challenges when pursuing ambitious technology strategies including: data security risks, budgetary constraints, technical limitations, specific hardware needs and a number of commercial restrictions. Police services have recognized that now is the time to be brave; to achieve the step-change in performance they must move on from existing technology and ways of working, and be prepared to confront these challenges.
The innovative use of mobile technology empowers officers, increases their security, engages citizens, optimizes ways of working, and enables analytical outputs to be delivered directly to the officer. This improves the citizen’s experience and offers new ways of collaborating—helping police services to provide a holistic “joined-up” service to the public, now and in the future.