The key to delivering visions for the future of public safety services is putting data at the heart of the organisation.
Our public safety services face a critical transformation journey to make the most of what technological developments can deliver. This journey is not becoming easier the longer we wait to embark upon this journey, so despite the barriers and challenges, now is the best time to be moving forward.
We were happy to see the release of the National Digital Policing Strategy in January, and for its efforts in establishing a vision for what the future of policing can hold with the proper integration of technology. Making that vision for the future of policing a reality will require three necessary, enabling steps to take place. In doing so, our nation’s police forces can set themselves up for success in delivering digitally supported public safety services that are not only fit for purpose today, but future proofed for tomorrow.
1. Building core digital capability
Policing has traditionally tended to buy new direct replacements of old kit. This can mean that legacy systems of doing and thinking stay on, and risk holding a force back from its ability to innovate and integrate technology as it develops and improves. UK policing would benefit from implementing a cloud hybrid capability at its core to enable IT services to be delivered as a commodity. This would support the move away from traditional IT infrastructure and put forces on the path to a cloud based, as a service model. This would enable more effective delivery in terms of cost and resource and would enable police forces to make data work for them.
Building core digital capability also means building a workforce with the right digital skills that will delivery and support it. We believe that technology providers such as ourselves have a responsibility to help upskill such a critical workforce, and as such, we have committed to upskilling at least 30,000 people across the public sector. 2
2. Getting your data into shape
Data is largely useless if we don’t understand it, or even what we have and what to do with it. To make the most of data, forces need to:
a. Build an understanding of what data you have, where it resides and agree a business owner
b. Create a “single view” across all of your data
c. Understand the quality of your data and implementing steps to improve it through digitising data capture
d. Provide secure and contextual access to your data to users and where appropriate external partners and the public.
e. Identify patterns in your data to aid early intelligent resource management, intervention and even prevention.
3. Spend smarter
In policing, it is almost inevitable that short term, tactical and urgent challenges will pop up and potentially impact the ability to encourage widespread support and buy-in for a transformation journey that will ultimately put your data to work. However, with the right roadmap and contingency planning, it is possible to address these without creating dead ends that will impede building your organisation’s future vision. This is what we mean with “spend smarter” – understanding how a force can use the budget being assigned to solving these tactical issues not to spot-fix, but to move an organisation further along the transformation roadmap.
Whether an organisation is just starting, or well on its way, Microsoft is ready to support digital transformation ambitions and enable these critical journeys. Microsoft prides itself on being a strong strategic partner for public safety organisations, and ultimately supporting the delivery of critical services impacting citizen safety.