Cutting-edge technology transforms force control room operations

A computer system used by the defence and security industries – and found in some of the most hi-tech control rooms around the globe – will help to transform the way Cheshire Constabulary works.

Dec 17, 2015
By Paul Jacques

A computer system used by the defence and security industries – and found in some of the most hi-tech control rooms around the globe – will help to transform the way Cheshire Constabulary works.

It is the first UK force to adopt the new system, which combines all of the functions required of a modern control room into a single unified software application, including multi-channel communications, contact management, command and control, radio dispatch, mapping and resource management. It can be hosted locally or in the cloud and can be deployed on fixed, web and mobile platforms.

Previously, Cheshire used seven separate systems in its control room to answer calls, manage incidents, deploy resources and communicate with officers and staff on the ground. The SAFE platform, which is provided by Swedish defence and security company Saab, replaces all of these, integrating them into a single unified software application for all users.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: “We are absolutely committed to using hi-tech and innovative ideas to support policing in Cheshire. This system offers us the chance to transform the way in which our control room works.

“It will allow the constabulary to respond to calls (via 999 and 101), manage incidents, access information which may be stored about the caller and anyone else involved in an incident and then deploy resources as appropriate – all within one user interface.”

He said it will enhance the capability to manage repeat callers and vulnerable people and map out locations, highlighting key areas such as anti-social behaviour hot spots or an Operation Shield (forensic property marking initiative) area.

The £7 million ten-year contract with Saab forms part of a forward-looking procurement framework created by Cheshire Constabulary – with 17 UK police forces named under the agreement and able to purchase the solution directly from Saab.

Cheshire is the first UK force to make the transition from the traditional multi-system approach and unite control of the current Airwave communications network and future LTE (long-term evolution)-based ESN (Emergency Services Network) with resource, contact and incident management in a single system.

“This is the culmination of a detailed evaluation of our current and future policing needs,” said Cheshire police and crime commissioner John Dwyer. “By bringing together several systems we will not only reduce costs and see improved efficiency, but will also be in a position to make significantly better use of data and ultimately deliver a better service to the public.”

Saab’s SAFE platform will replace several of Cheshire’s legacy systems with a single cost-effective solution. With its multi-role capability and intuitive workflow-driven user interface, SAFE will be employed extensively throughout the police force for all public contact, including 999 and 101 calls, incident management, communications management and resource deployment.

The system is already used in more than 30 mission-critical control rooms worldwide in a number of industries, including emergency services, national security, crisis management, traffic management and aviation.

The system also maps out CCTV cameras and provides a live link to any camera in a particular area. This would mean that an officer does not necessarily need to be deployed to a location to seize footage so it can be viewed as part of an incident. It can simply be viewed from a computer screen from the force’s control room.

Officers can access everything in one user interface – this allows both those in the control centre and officers on the ground, who will be equipped with tablet devices, to see and share real-time information at the same time.

Simon Read, Saab’s director of public safety solutions, said: “We see the ability to integrate multiple communications systems and diverse intelligence sources, plus the sharing of data with partner agencies, as pivotal in the provision of a modern service. SAFE has been built from the ground up to meet these challenges head on.”

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