Real-time intelligence for new Dutch national force

Mirroring the radical reorganisation of the Scottish police service, the former 25 regional Dutch police forces and the Dutch National Police Services Agency (KLPD) merged into a single national police force, consisting of ten regional units, on January 1.

Apr 11, 2013
By Paul Jacques

Mirroring the radical reorganisation of the Scottish police service, the former 25 regional Dutch police forces and the Dutch National Police Services Agency (KLPD) merged into a single national police force, consisting of ten regional units, on January 1.

The ICT challenges were immense, not least the convergence of command and control centres to create ten real-time intelligence centres (RTICs) and replacing all regional police websites with a single web environment.

“Implementing RTICs in all command and control rooms is a big challenge, especially during a period of time in which the Dutch police is transforming from ‘old to new’,” explained Martien Hoogebeen, project manager for control rooms and RTICs, Netherlands Police.

The 23 command and control rooms in the Netherlands – which are co-located with the fire and ambulance services – will transform into one command and control room with ten satellite centres.

“For the police, the time had come to improve our command and control room performance and make a step towards a command and control room that is not only a dispatch centre, but to one with a big role in directing operations in the field,” explained Mr Hoogebeen, who was speaking at the recent Control Room Communications conference in Vienna.

“The need to push real-time intelligence to units in the field was greatly felt. Units in the field are better prepared in combining information from different sources – reaction is quicker and more adequate and we can already see a larger number of arrests.

“Dutch police are especially keen on improving the number of ‘[caught] red-handed arrests’. We see an important role for RTIC in monitoring social media. In the short history of RTIC we have seen a number of serious incidents (kidnapping, domestic violence, robberies) that were solved in a short amount of time, mainly by the use of intelligence from social media.”

A nationwide try-out of the RTICs started on November 1 last year and went fully operational 24/7 in all command and control rooms on December 27.

“There was, and still is, a technical challenge,” said Mr Hoogebeen. “We want all the RTICs to be connected and we want them to be able to monitor all databases used in all police departments. That is still not possible (mainly due to network limitations) so workarounds had to be invented and it will take some time to get all that done.

“The lessons learnt will be shared throughout the country by means of an implementation group. This will consist of all the project managers and they will meet every two weeks. Furthermore, the Dutch police have recently started a Twitter-like medium called Police+. This makes it possible to quickly share information in a safe environment, both personal and on a community level. Very handy.”

The key operational objective for the new web environment was the introduction of a single ‘digital police office’ for all Dutch citizens. The purpose is to not only make all interactions between public and police more efficient, but also to involve the population directly in the crime-fighting activities of the police. For instance, citizens can help the police solve cases by sending photographs or videos from the crime scene using their smartphone. They will also be able to report a crime online, from their mobile or from home, without the need to visit a police station. Social media features will be used to gather citizens’ input and solve cases quicker.

Technically, this meant implementing a single content management system (CMS) that would store all relevant content and deliver it to the multiple channels that the digital police office supports, from television to website, tablet and smartphone.

All regional police websites – more than 400 active websites, built on a variety of web content management systems – have been migrated to a single web environment. The central web content management (WCM) environment – using Dutch CMS specialist Hippo – will improve the content exchange between

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