Infotech Lead Asia: New Zealand Police has tied up with AirWatch, a provider of Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM), to deploy more than 10,000 devices to its police force.
New Zealand Police Commissioner, in an interview published in its official website, talks about its plans for smartphones and tablets.
What benefits are Police expecting out of the rollout of smartphones and tablets?
Frontline Police officers will spend more time in the community (from around 520,000 additional hours every year) where they will have more timely access to job-critical information. For example, while out and about, officers will have mobile access to information about people, vehicles and locations. They will be able to view maps, and check their email and calendars.
Investing in better technology frees up officers’ time to focus on more effective policing by putting crime prevention, and the needs of victims, at the forefront of their duties.
During the past two years there has been a significant focus on prevention and a corresponding decrease in crime. Police have a target of reducing the crime rate by 15 per cent by 2017. Police are on track to achieve this, with recorded crime falling by 6 per cent for the year ending June 2012.
Frontline officers will have mobile access to information where and when they need it. This will result in improved decision-making in terms of their interactions with offenders, victims and law-abiding citizens, but also in regard to their own safety; for example, through better situational awareness.
For example, being able to access a person’s details, showing they are known to carry weapons, changes the way an officer will (or won’t) approach and deal with that person. Equally, information about an address where there’s a history of family violence or other crimes will influence who attends that address and what tactics might be used.
What is the over-arching aim of this initiative?
This initiative provides frontline officers with access to Police information systems and applications they need to use every day. From April this year 6,086 frontline district staff will receive the mobile technology. The initial rollout is expected to take approximately three months. By mid-2014 the number of frontline officers receiving the devices is anticipated to grow to 6,500.
3,900 officers will also receive a tablet. The larger device is for staff who need to do more complex data entry as part of their job.
Frontline officers will use smartphones and tablets so they can work while out in the community, rather than having to be in stations doing administrative duties. Overseas jurisdictions, including Australia and parts of the UK, are already using mobile technology. While these initiatives overseas are a bit different to what New Zealand Police are doing, we have reviewed what they have done to better inform our trial and rollout.
What applications will be provided for staff to use?
The devices will contain applications, developed and implemented during the trial, to help frontline officers work more effectively while out in the community, rather than having to work from their desks. Police will be able to check an individual’s personal details and if the person is wanted, their driver licence status, their active criminal charges, bail conditions and criminal history, and any relevant staff safety alerts.
They will also have access to previous arrest photographs to help confirm identification. The applications include:
• eQuip, which gives access to the Police National Intelligence Application. This allows officers to submit and manage queries for people, vehicles and locations. The ‘Person’ view includes an offender photo (if available) and information such as links to other offenders, charges/warnings, bail and driver licence details. This application saves officers’ time, compared to radio or station-based queries.
• Mobile Responder, which gives officers access to maps showing their location, and that of their colleagues, and the ability to view and update events assigned by Communications Centres.
• Standard office-type applications (e.g. mail, calendar).
This technology will enable officers to spend more time on the frontline out in communities, work more efficiently, improve their safety and the safety of communities in which they work.
What were the main findings of the technology trial?
The 11-month trial last year involved more than 100 staff in four districts (Counties-Manukau, Napier, Lower Hutt and West Coast) using smartphones, tablets and laptops. It aimed to see how useful and productive the new technology would be for frontline officers. The trial identified productivity gains of around 30 minutes per shift per officer, a gain of about 520,000 hours each year across 6,086 frontline officers.
What specific overseas jurisdictions use technology in the way you’re proposing and what are their success rates?
All Australian and UK jurisdictions have implemented mobile technology, with positive results, to provide information to frontline staff. There is no one doing exactly what we are doing. Western Australia has achieved great results with slightly different mobile technology. Hampshire Police (UK) has also had good results. New Zealand Police looked into other programs to inform the shape of its own initiative.
Police say the investment in technology will provide productivity benefits of $304.8 million over 12 years – how was this determined?
The initial cost of the rollout is $4.3 million. Over the next 12 years, Police will spend $159 million in operating expenditure to fund the initiative.
The productivity benefits will be achieved through savings in staff time. It was calculated through the trial that every officer equipped with one of the new devices saved 30 minutes per shift. Based on 6,086 officers receiving devices, the financial equivalent value of this productivity improvement is $304.8 million by 2023/24.
The time saved can be reinvested back into prevention activities, to help meet our Better Public Service targets of a reduction in the total recorded crime rate by 15 per cent, the recorded violent crime rate by 20 per cent and the youth crime rate by 5 per cent by 2017.
How can you be confident each officer with a smartphone will save 30 minutes per shift and reinvest that time back into crime-preventing activities?
The Police did a time in motion study using independent experts that confirmed the productivity benefits identified in the trial. The Policing Excellence office has developed a comprehensive seven-step benefit management approach to monitor the benefits realised from the implementation of initiatives. Using this approach, districts are held to account for the delivery and implementation of initiatives to ensure freed time is reinvested into tactics focused on prevention to reduce crime and prosecutions.
What is an example of a proactive policing activity?
One example of proactive policing is on-the-spot checks, which will enable officers to verify, for example, whether people are wanted for arrest or whether vehicles (and their owners) have outstanding fines against them. This is expected to reduce the number of outstanding warrants to arrest and help recover unpaid fines.
Police are much more focused on proactive policing to help prevent crime, and last year there was a 70 per cent increase in the number of foot patrols.
How many smartphones and tablets will be issued?
In the initial three-month rollout from April, Police will deliver smartphones to 6,086 frontline response, investigation and community officers in all Police districts. Of these, 3,900 officers who need to do more complex data entry as part of their job will also be issued with a tablet. A total of 6,500 officers are expected to have the new technology by mid-2014.
Will any constabulary staff lose their jobs as a result of this move?
No staff will lose their positions as a result of the introduction of mobile technology. This is all about freeing up existing frontline staff to spend more time in the community on crime prevention tasks and activities.
Will any stations close as a result of this announcement?
There are no plans to close any stations as a result of this announcement.
Have Police considered the ICT risks around the new technology?
Yes. Through extensive planning and the trial process, the security, privacy and technology risks have been mitigated as thoroughly as possible. A range of security measures are in place for the rollout of the smartphones and tablets, and will be continually monitored.
What happens if the devices are lost, or fall into the wrong hands? How much of a risk is that?
All devices and the applications on them are password-protected to prevent unauthorized access. The devices themselves have a management application loaded on them, allowing the devices to be remotely tracked, wiped and locked should they be misplaced or stolen.
What guidelines are being provided to staff around using the devices?
Policy and business rules around the use of the devices and the applications used on them will be given to staff before they can start using them. Officers will have to complete online training before they can use their smartphones and tablets. These rules will be the subject of an online training package that all users will be required to complete and certify as having completed.
What is to stop frontline officers from viewing Facebook, or other social media sites, on their devices?
The devices allow limited web access to Police-approved sites only. Access to social media sites requires formal approval based on business need.