by Mark Chillingworth

Met Police mobiles to give intelligence leads

Feb 10, 20143 mins
GovernmentIT LeadershipIT Strategy

London’s Metropolitan Police will be offering location and context aware policing as a result of its latest technology strategy, interim CIO Richard Thwaite revealed in an interview with CIO UK. Joining up disparate databases, intelligence and mobile devices will ensure the UK’s largest police force spends more time on the beat.

“Replacing paper with mobile user interfaces giving the ability to capture witness statements in the field, but equally as an officer you want to know what is that the Met Police know; there could be an offender on licence nearby or a gang victim in need of support. These are the things an officer want to know, today they do not know, that information is back at base,” Thwaite said of the ambitions.

Thwaite’s new Total Technology strategy, launched on Friday, focuses on making policing information context aware to mobile devices.

“We are integrating our databases to where to the officer is and 90 per cent of the transactions an officer makes will be via mobile device. This will create an environment where officers do not have to go back to the station,” he said.

Chris Price, until recently, a peer of Thwaite’s at West Midlands Police in Birmingham, has been following a similar strategy, which he describes as “cutting the rubber band” that constantly brought officers to and from base all day.

Thwaite plans to put many standard, non-law enforcement processes onto mobile devices, citing rosters and uniform ordering as a classic examples.

Not only will London’s police officers have enhanced mobile interactions, so too will the capital’s citizens. Thwaite plans to increase the opportunities for digital interaction with the Met Police so that citizens can upload images of offences like drivers on mobile phones or taking photographs.

“The Boston bombing proved that you can get a lot of data that way,” he said. “We are not taking away the 999 phone number though,” he reassured citizens.

Currently the Met Police has three enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems from the three major suppliers – Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. Thwaite’s strategy will see the Met Police consolidate its ERP on to a single platform from one of the three suppliers.

Integrating ERP and intelligence databases for deliver to mobile devices will see the Met Police change its project delivery method from Waterfall to Agile, Thwaite said.

“We are now using Agile delivery techniques so that the force gets to see products much faster, because policing is evolving very very fast,” he said.

Thwaite was with US banking giant UBS in London prior to becoming interim CIO of the Met Police a year ago.

“Certainly speed and flexibility and learning to respond to support the organisation were key in banking. Process quality and always thinking of your end customer were lessons from manufacturing,” he said of his lessons from UBS and car manufacturer Ford.

Thwaite’s strategy must also cut costs.

“In the private sector as there is investment you can see what you can do. In the private sector there has been less investment and ironically it ends up costing you twice as much, so it is a false economy as the cost is in business efficiency.”