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Empowering your IT department to proactively solve policing problems

ADVERTORIAL: Oliver Ledgard, EMEA Government Vertical Lead, Zebra Technologies.

Empowering your IT department to proactively solve policing problems

Date - 26th April 2023
By - Oliver Ledgard

The profile of crime in the UK is changing. Digital-related offences are up hugely and criminals now – in so many cases – have technology and equipment that far exceeds the capacity and ability of the police services trying to catch them.

The public often demand to see a “bobby on the beat” because it gives them a greater sense of security, but this may not always be the most efficient use of officers’ time.

For policing leaderships, this presents a catch-22 dilemma. Public satisfaction is critical to community relationships and trust, but meeting crime targets by juggling the diminishing officer resources available is critical to keeping Police and Crime Commissioners and Ministers happy.

This means IT leaderships and civil service colleagues within policing also have a tough tightrope to walk. They need to extract more but with less investment funding available.

Thankfully, there is much time to be regained in every officer’s day thanks to the right technological choices. A well-constructed programme can condense a lot of equipment and processes into one single device. This drives efficiency and frees up time; two key reasons why Zebra’s solutions exist.

Even if a small bit of time is reclaimed by each officer – for example from writing a report in the field rather than in a station – the overall impact can prove significant. When multiplied by the number of officers in any particular service per day, this equates to a monumental number of hours, days, and maybe even weeks.

For those unable to hire more officers, whether due to tight budget or talent availability, it has become ever more crucial to introduce new ways of working that are empowered by technology. Doing so might even prove beneficial in convincing those thinking of leaving the service to stay for longer.

Technology such as RFID can also be used by IT departments to monitor and track equipment, reducing its losses and delivering cash savings.

There is no doubt digital transformation will contribute to making the day-to-day job of officers easier. In turn this will make the outcomes for policing leaderships more satisfying.

But IT departments in the public sector are suffering too from their own talent challenge. Renumeration cannot compete with companies in the private sector when it comes to the battle for the best and most knowledgeable employees.

Therefore, leaderships in policing, throughout the hierarchy, can make the lives of their IT and civil service colleagues easier by considering the following questions at the start of any discussions around new solutions:

  • What are your service’s current problems with productivity and efficiency?
  • What are your priorities when aiming to transform your service?
  • What are your three main challenges for officers on the ground?
  • Where in your budgets are you aiming to achieve the most efficiency?
  • Where on the frontline or behind-the-scenes are you hoping for time saved?
  • How strong and break-proof are the current frontline devices deployed?
  • How long will this implementation take and what are the dangers?
  • Who is actually making my procurement decisions, based on what criteria?

As a trusted partner to emergency services globally, Zebra Technologies is well-placed to help with the answers to all these questions.

We know sometimes there can be a tendency to wait and watch, observing what peers are doing in other services. There might also be a push towards buying devices from consumer brands as they are known among officers themselves.

But gaining trust and awareness in a brand that boast the best reliability and value comes through good planning and deeper research. It also comes through understanding the sheer complexity of security considerations involved, especially the complications from using consumer devices rather than enterprise-led ones.

Many police forces currently have a priority to ensure officers cannot share sensitive data outside of the service, use the public’s personal details in an inappropriate way, or abuse their position with information gathered in the course of the job.

Enterprise hardware and software is designed to protect the service’s brand and its officers too. Policing leaderships and their colleagues leading in IT can be sure that by deploying these devices, they will know what they can and cannot be used for.

It’s true, officers may be far more familiar with consumer brands and their applications – and it is a struggle to convince them to switch.

But working together on a well-defined roadmap means police leaders at all levels can implement the right sort of secure and reliable solutions that improve trust among both their officers and the public.

Zebra understands policing’s challenges. Zebra has the technology to solve them. Zebra has the experience to ensure its platforms and solutions are compatible with all aspects of the cloud and secure enough to prevent hacking from bad actors.

Change and digitalisation is now a necessity across the public sector. But a successful and sustainable long-term implementation is only possible if policing leaderships engage with, and work alongside, their IT and civil service colleagues.

They must be committed to helping each other understand the objectives and barriers on all sides; only then can full confidence be achieved to take politicians, officers, and members of the public with them on this critical journey.

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