By Dallas Reilly, Program Director - PIPP Reform Program, Victoria Police
Having served in the Australian Navy and Air Force, it would come as no surprise that the values and community focus at the core of police operations resonate with me. In late 2015, Victoria Police was recovering from five years of low investment in technology, and a public technology project failure had shaken the confidence of government in their ability to deliver complex ICT transformation. Victoria Police’s ICT transformational journey was at a standstill and they were looking for ways to instil confidence in the state government to transform the organisation and provide a digital workspace for operational police.
Under-investment in Police technology
The populist view is that more police officers equal a safer community. While having police officers on the ground is important, the Victorian Government and Police recognised that in today’s environment they cannot be fully effective in every day operations without state-of-the-art technology. An over-investment in people and under-investment in technology is inefficient, and an over-investment in technology and under-investment in people is equally ineffective. In the last three years we have strived to find a balance between the two.
After many years of under-investment in existing ICT systems and infrastructure, and no investment in new capabilities, Victoria Police is now well into the process of transforming its ICT landscape whilst simultaneously growing its workforce. With 3,000 additional police officers being recruited over the next three years, Victoria Police will soon become the largest law enforcement organisation within Australia (comprising 23,000 staff by 2021).
The Victorian government has invested over AUD$500 million in technology reform funding and Victoria Police has embarked on its ICT transformational journey. Technology is to be focussed on being an intelligence-led, mobile and connected police force to engage with the community and reduce crime.
Already, significant progress has been made in delivering a number of major transformation projects. For example:
Our Intelligence Management Solution is a web-based platform that brings information together from a number of different systems and sources of data. This delivers more efficient search and complex data analytics functions. The capability is allowing Victoria Police to quickly build actionable intelligence to solve crimes. The solution is complex, comprising more than 200 servers, a petabyte of storage and two terabytes of RAM. There are almost 1,000 users on the system now, with up to 6,000 users expected to regularly use the system by mid-2019.
For the first time police investigators and intelligence practitioners can search across multiple systems and perform complex data analytics, through a single interface, to build rich intelligence pictures to solve, or disrupt crime. This solution is the most advanced of its kind in Australia and is receiving significant interest from the New Zealand Police Force and INTERPOL.
Our Mobile Technology initiative equips police officers in the field with handheld mobile devices and a custom built application to access and input operational information. More than 7,000 devices have now been deployed and the project is on track to deploy a total of 10,000 devices over the next few months. All this work is more than the provisioning of commercial mobile tablets and phones; the real achievement is in complex backend integration creating a user experience which is world class. For users, the technology is simple and intuitive, and allows important information to be shared and accessed in near real time. Mobile technology is proving invaluable for operational decision making through immediate access to accurate information and reliable intelligence.
Body Worn Cameras
Body Worn Cameras streamline the gathering and storing of video evidence. This is proving important in cases before the courts and in supporting the work of family violence investigations. It ensures transparent interactions between police and the community, whilst enhancing the accountability of all parties and improving safety by changing people’s behaviour. This technology has required a re-think in the way police interact with the public that has resulted in revised policies and new government legislation. Approximately 1,000 Body Worn Cameras have been deployed to date with another 10,000 cameras being issued to police officers by the end of 2019. Once fully deployed, Victoria Police will have the second largest stock of Body Worn Cameras in the world, second only to the Metropolitan police force in London.
Police Assistance Line and Online Reporting
Victoria Police is improving its service to the community in recording information about non-urgent crime, which does not require the immediate dispatch of a police unit. A private/public partnership has been formed to establish a public call centre and online reporting platform. This provides new channels for the community to contact police. Our industry partner is integrating its applications with Victoria Police systems allowing the community to easily report non-urgent incidents to police. The service is expected to reduce the call volumes at the State’s Emergency Call Centre by 30 per cent. Calls and online reports will be dealt with at the contact centre using civilian employees. Police members will be co-located to serve as subject matter experts and law enforcement advisors for these employees. From February 2019, we will commence operations, with full operational capability being achieved by the end of 2019.
Organisational Change Management (OCM)
It is imperative that we have a strong organisational change management capability integrated with the technology delivery streams to drive business transformation. Law enforcement organisations, such as Victoria Police, are built on long-standing professional relationships and high standards of ethical behaviour. The trust between police officers is built and sustained through constantly working in highly stressful, dangerous and complex environments. Consequently, police officers are schooled in a ’can-do’ attitude and finding innovative ways to use the resources at hand. The police culture forged through this environment challenges traditional ways of delivering change. We have built strong relationships between the organisational change management practitioners and those sworn officers responsible for business engagement and reinforcing change.
Given the unique culture, environment and complexities involved, I took the approach of separating the OCM work into two lines of operation. One work stream follows the classic OCM practice of stakeholder and change impact analysis, planning and preparation of stakeholder support (communications and training), whilst the other stream allows police to engage and execute the change messaging, communications and education directly with operational police officers. The OCM stream is led by a professional change practitioner, whilst the business engagement stream is led by a senior police officer. These two streams work closely together to deliver a well-designed and constructed change program.