“Every role I’ve held as a CIO, permanent or interim, in aviation, utilities and the NSW Police Force, it’s the changing people context or culture more than technology that is the most complex and challenging,” says NSW Police Force’s chief information and technology officer, Gordon Dunsford.
“At NSW Police, the one thing I’ve learned about police officers is that they always find a way to get an outcome for a victim and the community, which as a citizen I see as a fantastic trait I respect. However, as CIOs, especially those who are trying to turn a large ship like NSW Police with some 22,000 staff, we [Dunsford and his team] normally need time but we don’t have that luxury anymore,” he says.
In late 2017, NSW Police introduced a ‘digital technology and innovation command’ IT division to modernise and provide solutions to front line and specialist police across the state.
Dunsford joined the organisation in early January 2018 and immediately established an ICT strategic action plan, new operating model and approach to core systems modernisation.
“Upon joining, I was presented with a brief that contained some 12 years of requests by an array of commands to digitise some 200-odd request for assistance systems and processes for front line police.”
These days, Dunsford and his team are managing BluePortal, a digital platform that isconsolidating some 200 odd disparate ‘request for assistance’ processes and systems used by police and their commanders across the mounted police, dog squad, marine, police air, tactical operations, communications, police rescue to forensic services.
Dunsford and his team are transitioning off Lotus Notes to Office 365 and a new end user computing environment, rolling out more than 15,000 Windows devices to some 500 locations, significantlyenhancing MobiPol our mobile first platform, as well as a new approach to the modernisation of core police systems that have mostly resided on an IBM mainframe since the early 1990s affectionately known as COPS.
“BluePortal is delivering front line operational value, including in risk management to ensure the efficient deployment of scarce policingresources, ensuring commanders get the right assets to the right operation at the right time,” Dunsford said.
“Using the system, police and their responding commands can provision their assets – dogs, horses, PolAir etc – to commanders for events of all types.”
However, augmenting the platform with other technology innovations is now the opportunity,says Dunsford.
“Early commands that onboarded to BluePortal are now reimagining their businesses, and can nowexplore opportunities for wearables and artificial intelligence to support the health and wellbeing of police who ultimately work with assets requested and provisioned using BluePortal in events and operations. This has already started but long term, BluePortal will provide insights into operational performance and ultimately feed into the health and well-being initiatives of NSW Police.”
Building credibility across the force
“We have a strong culture and encourage all staff across the organisation to come up with innovative ideas. As the NSW Police CIO, my leadership team and I are very engaged and embedded inside commands every day and everything we do is about supporting front line police to help keep the people of NSW safe with the best technology available,” says Dunsford.
The thought leadership and engagement with various commands is critical in building credibility and being given the right to help ultimately modernises and transforms the way technology enables policing in NSW, he says.
Dunsford adds that as a member of the NSW Police Force Commissioner’s executive team, he influences and builds credibility by delivering outcomes for frontline Police such as BluePortal.
“Further, I ensure I stay credible by seeing first-hand pain points for police by doing ‘ride-alongs’ with general duties front line police to specialist commands in a range of events such executinga search warrant,” he says.
“Having spent hours first hand seeing issues and reflecting back on thesehellip;ensures I and my team am aligning with and solving problems for officers.”
Dunsford says the new IT operating model has provided new ways of working with Police in delivering business aligned technology enablement.
“This has seen many staff reinvigorated in my Command, seeing a reset of their original passion for joining the police force even as a civilian working in technology. They have an opportunity to take advantage of new platforms and innovations such as BluePortal, cyber,analytics and intelligence platforms, while working with a range of NSW government agencies on, for example, the digital drivers licence. This has seen staff engaged and challenged to grow their careers.”