Kevin Johnson, Key Account Manager – UK Central Government, Police Forces and Defence at SoftwareONE, discusses the fragmented nature of the UK’s police force and how this creates a challenge when it comes to using the same technology platforms and processes
The police are firmly on the path to cracking the case when it comes to cloud adoption. In fact, findings from a Freedom of Information request conducted by SoftwareONE show two-thirds of police forces are already using public cloud. Migrating to the cloud offers a whole host of benefits for the police, especially as the police is fragmented by nature, consisting of 48 forces that all employ different technology platforms and processes. This impacts their ability to easily share data, track trends and ultimately reduce crime; adopting the cloud and creating a standardised, force-wide IT platform will enable better data sharing and allow police in different locations to navigate the modern crime-scape together.
Recent government initiatives like the Policing Vision 2025 and the National Enabling Programme (NEP) also aim to implement digital transformation programmes nationwide, to assist forces overcome today’s new and evolving crime challenge. The same FoI data shows that 66 per cent of forces have already undertaken projects under the NEP. So, is it case closed? Well, not quite. Adoption of cloud is only the beginning; forces need to think carefully both about how cloud services and infrastructure will be managed post-migration, and how to ensure maximum ROI is achieved.
Case remains open
Cloud is an integral step to successfully fulfil the Policing Vision 2025 and accelerate digital transformation. However, the initial outlay of adopting cloud can be a significant investment – police forces need to employ effective cloud management processes and real-time monitoring to ensure ROI. When looking to get the most from cloud, maintaining compliance and security, optimising cloud usage, ensuring services perform as planned, and offering support and maintenance in case of any faults are all key.
Cloud management processes give police forces access to digestible and understandable real-time performance and consumption analytics. This helps their IT teams create accurate budgets, monitor consumption to ensure costs stay within expenditure predictions, and better plan future purchases – which is especially important as public sector services still operate on reduced budgets. Moreover, robust cloud management will ensure business-critical applications remain available and that downtime is minimised. This is essential – if, for example, a police control room runs on a cloud-based infrastructure, as anything more than a few minutes downtime would be unthinkable.
Lining up the right approach
The next step is to ensure the resources that have been paid for are being used. When police first migrate to the cloud, it’s often the case that with platforms like Microsoft 365 or the Google Suite, forces take ‘quick wins’ like using Outlook or Gmail for email, while neglecting the other features. It’s worth exploring what else your chosen platform has to offer; a recent Forrester TEI report, for example, highlights the importance of this, showing that using Microsoft Teams (which comes as part of the Microsoft 365 package) reduces the number and duration of staff meetings – with resulting savings totalling $6.9 million over three years. These savings are crucial for cash-strapped public sector bodies such as the police and functions like file sharing and instant messaging can supercharge collaboration across the different forces.
Today’s police force faces a many new and evolving challenges, as the digital era has expanded the surface area for crime. This means a unified police approach is needed now more than ever to deal with crime on a national scale in real-time; achieving police access to a centralised data bank should be a key focus for forces. As the police seek to digitally transform and reach the standards set out by the Policing Vision 2025, all 48 UK forces will find cloud a key component of this journey. While adoption is largely now underway, the police must remember that the work doesn’t end there. While NEP projects and cloud migration are clearly important, monitoring and optimising cloud services post-adoption are also vital to the police fighting against evolving crime challenges.
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