Guest Blog: Data-Driven Digital Transformation in Policing

As part of techUK's Security & Law Enforcement Campaign Week, Michael Jensen, Defence & Security Account Director at Informatica, blogs about how data can transform policing and drive collaboration.

At the centre of the delivery strategy for police services across the UK is the aim of making our country a safer place, protecting our public by preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and supporting victims.

This needs to be delivered whilst providing the best possible service for the citizen in the face of austerity, ongoing budget challenges and socio-economic changes in society.

Modern day policing still aligns to the Peelian principle: ‘To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder’. Chief Constables are very much aware that on a day to day basis, data keeps people in their communities safe and more so, sharing data across organisational boundaries makes more people even safer.

To achieve these outcomes, decision makers in the police need to consider how digital transformation can be an effective enabler of change. The public now expects multi-channel engagement, timely interactions and improved end-to-end experiences from all public services. They should also expect the police to lead on digital intelligence and investigations, and the digital transfer of evidence with criminal justice partners.

This is an opportunity to make continual process improvements based on the data that these interactions generate, combined with all the other data available within policing systems. This data is mostly recorded within a variety of disparate, often legacy-based, information systems.

As police services are responding to the social and technology challenges of the 21st century, the importance of the data itself, as opposed to the applications and information systems that contain the data, is becoming more visible and important.

The key to the success for the future of policing will be the ability to provide front-line staff with easily accessible, up- to-date, accurate insight derived from this data. In doing so, police officers and staff require situational awareness - data which is relevant to that time and place. This will ensure dynamic and effective delivery to service users and their ability to pre-empt or quickly respond to incidents in the most effective manner. This insight, delivered right to the frontline, has the potential to substantially improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the police service.

Working in partnership with other front-line agencies and service providers creates the opportunity to further augment the data and the potential to radically improve the engagement process with the public. It could create new and exciting opportunities to alter the delivery of emergency frontline services; increase the citizen focus; build trust and enhance the perception of and confidence in public service providers.

This data-driven transformation will support the network policing concept and greater collaboration between police forces, other law enforcement agencies and other emergency services, particularly in respect of specialist capabilities. Greater volumes of high quality data support better decision making, both at the tactical and strategic levels.

Retaining this public trust will be however also be dependent upon the security of the data and close control over access to it. Current control mechanisms are inadequate, as evidenced by the thousands of unauthorised data access requests and data breaches that are recorded in policing each year.

The ability to securely unlock the potential of data in existing and new systems provides a huge opportunity to drive positive change for police services, and deliver truly transformational digital services in line with the Policing Vision 2025.

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