Digital, data and connectedness: inspiring officers at the Police Digital Summit 2021
Police force representatives from across the UK joined together for three days of back-to-back sessions covering all things digital transformation: new technologies, data-driven policing and digital engagement with citizens.
The talk track was underpinned by the National Policing Digital Strategy 2020-2030, launched at the Summit event by the Police ICT Company. The framework cites five key ambitions as drivers for change over the next 10 years, including:
Seamless citizen experience: Giving the public ample opportunities to engage with forces across a multitude of digital channels
Addressing harm: Using technology to assess when there’s possible risks to the public, empowering forces to be proactive in protecting the vulnerable
Enabling officers and staff through digital: Expanding IT capabilities across the forces, to support ways of working
Embedding a whole public system approach: Fostering a philosophy of openness and collaboration
Empower the private sector: Strengthening relationships with private sector solution providers to support public safety responsibilities
It’s clear that these ambitions resonated with policing staff, with event sessions being welcomed by the continuous ‘ping’ of messages in Microsoft Teams – comments from a highly captivated crowd.
Delivered by the Minister of State for Crime and Policing, Christopher Malthouse, the key focus was around creating a new generation of crime fighters, from officers on the streets to heroes in the call centres – with a collective mission to support policing through technology.
The MP highlighted a desire to bring together policing teams, the Home Office and delivery partners to link local innovation to national programs. Integral to this is the recent, award-winning roll-out of Microsoft 365 across 19 police forces in the UK (and rising).
This roll-out has clearly created a technical foundation for the UK policing system, and now acts as a launch pad for the discovery of new and innovative solutions which can truly bring value to the police and wider public.
The rise of digital in policing
The overarching trend towards digital technologies means nothing unless the solutions hand-selected by UK forces can deliver tangible benefits: improving ways of working, expediting day-to-day tasks or enhancing how the police serve the public.
Microsoft partner, Adobe, spoke about how Adobe Document Cloud has been transformative in improving the processes of the British Transport Police, specifically when gaining signatures on witness statements. The team saved have save a huge 2,461 hours since the roll out in May 2020; 61 weeks in total saved by transforming a paper-based process into a digital audit trail, eliminating paper and driving efficiencies.
Simple – pioneers in marketing and communications technology – delivered an engaging break-out session, preluded with their commitment to developing a custom-fit solution for police forces. The Simple ‘command centre’ let’s forces govern their public engagement communications before being distributed to the public, regardless of channel. Centralising these critical activities was shown to be key for increasing trust, enabling the sharing of good news and aligning campaigns to local or national initiatives.
Data lighting the way
‘Data’ is the topic which created a noticeable boom in audience interaction. There was collective agreement on the importance of using data to not only maximise technology investments, but to enhance everything do – including the ability to:
- Improve outcomes and reduce crime – to improve public trust and confidence
- Deliver earlier, proactive policing approaches – to protect the most vulnerable members of society
- To avoid miscarriages of justice – strengthening trust in the judicial system
- To make the best use of local innovation – enabling the delivery of a quality service
- To underpin the Data Policy Framework – ensuring that data in policing is governed and used ethically
- To deliver a seamless, digitally-enabled experience to the public – Increasing the integration of multiple channels for use as diverse data sources
With awareness around the importance of data, the next step is to focus on the local, regional and national solutions that work co-operatively to produce quality data, and to drive forward interoperability across forces, so that key data can be leveraged to improve outcomes.
“Data for policing is both life-changing and life-saving” – Jo Farrell, Durham Constabulary
Connecting through technology
Officers and policing staff do what they do for a reason: they care. Their mission is to support the public as best as they can, with the conference highlighting the need to enable staff through technology.
With better tools and insights, the UK can do better policing. Staff become empowered through improved operations, reduced admin time, collaboration across forces and easy ways to communicate seamlessly with citizens.
Not only this, a key focus for the next decade is to introduce sustainable technology – to re-imagine how things can be done in the future. Looking at the application of robotic process automation, quantum computing and artificial intelligence, to name a few.
As the event drew to a close, it was clear that UK policing have digital transformation firmly in mind. With a focus on increasing efficiencies, enhancing the accessibility of quality data and enabling staff through digital tech, the sector is on an journey, driving forward innovation.
This evolution will inevitably benefit officers, communities and the wider public they serve.
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