AIMTech Consulting, a spin-off from the University of Leeds Business School, has released a major new report ‘The Future of the Force: Police, Technology and Serving the Public’.
The report, commissioned by Airwave, the company behind the emergency services’ communications network, explores the changing nature of policing and the opportunities for technology to help forces drive efficiencies, free officers from back office tasks, and deliver a higher quality service.
The first part of the report builds upon the results of a national survey completed by more than half of all UK police forces. The survey looks at the state of police technology today and expected areas for development.
These include evolving sources of information such as social media (81%), and evolving ways of making information available to officers on the beat – through smartphones (90%), laptops (71%) and in-car terminals (67%). Respondents said they expect very significant change or transformation in these areas.
The second part of the report builds upon interviews with senior police officers, government officials and chief technology officers of companies supporting the police service. It highlights changes in the nature of policing and resulting technology challenges, including:
- A major increase in big data and the need to filter and analyse growing volumes of structured and unstructured information to convert this into real-time intelligence
- A rise in the need for collaboration and interoperability of systems so that information can be shared both between forces and/or with other emergency services – ensuring greater efficiency and effectiveness.
The final section of the report explores the potential for emerging technologies such as sensors and augmented reality as well as ethical issues relating to their use. It includes contributions from independent technology and policing experts.
Dr David Allen, senior lecturer at Leeds University Business School and senior consultant at AIMTech, commented: ‘The report highlights many new sources of structured and unstructured information. Making that information available remotely via a range of devices will enable remote working practices and free officers from the back office. Interoperability will support the sharing of information and will be key to effective collaboration with other services – in the case of command and control, for example.’
Euros Evans, CTO of Airwave, said: ‘Having access to real-time intelligence ensures the right information reaches the right officers at the right time, in the right location and in an appropriate format – which greatly increases the likelihood of a positive outcome for individuals and the police. We will continue to evolve and develop our understanding of the role of data and the best way to present and communicate it to support policing and public safety.’