Smartphones and crime mapping feature in e-Government awards

Bedfordshire Police, South Yorkshire Police and Hampshire Constabulary are among the 81 finalists in the e-Government National Awards 2007.

Nov 16, 2007
By Paul Jacques

Bedfordshire Police, South Yorkshire Police and Hampshire Constabulary are among the 81 finalists in the e-Government National Awards 2007.

The awards highlight the UK’s most effective services which improve citizen and business transaction with councils, central government departments and other public sector organisations.

This year’s finalists have been chosen from among the record 527 nominations that were submitted by senior professionals working across the public sector. The judging panel was headed by Government Chief Information Officer John Suffolk, who is based at the Cabinet Office.

The winners will be announced at a national awards dinner in London on January 22, 2008.

Bedfordshire Police’s nomination came from its initiative to mobilise frontline officers using wireless BlackBerry handheld devices.

By February next year, more than 1,000 frontline officers will be making use of the T-Mobile-powered devices to access the Police National Computer (PNC), Police National Legal Database (PNLD) and other key force systems such as the briefings, intelligence and warrants databases.

“By using BlackBerry smartphones to access critical applications on the move, instead of at their desks, our officers will be able to increase their visibility in the community and improve their operational efficiency,” explains Inspector Jim Hitch, the project manager who spearheaded the initiative for Bedfordshire Police.

“Officers no longer need to radio the control room for information or intelligence every time they question someone or see something suspicious. BlackBerry gives officers the power to quickly check crucial details such as identity, vehicle ownership and previous convictions with very little effort and in a secure and robust manner.”

Remote access to the force’s custom-built briefings application provides officers with real-time access to information and photographs of wanted or missing people, helping them to quickly and confidently conduct identifications. The BlackBerry smartphones also give immediate, mobile access to the force’s warrants database. This is a completely electronic system that delivers a warrant entered at court directly to the officer on the beat. Accessing these crucial systems remotely has enabled officers to increase their efficiency, as they no longer need to return to the station or radio the control room to access information or log their updates.

South Yorkshire Police’s new mapping technology, involving a geographical information system, has saved the force an estimated £600,000 in costs over the past year

The force-wide intranet crime mapping solution is produced by ESRI (UK), the geographical information system (GIS) company.

The new equipment is known as the intranet mapping system (IMS) and can provide crime and anti-social behaviour information to anyone in the South Yorkshire force.

ESRI says that officers can now make decisions up to 20 times faster with the use of the IMS than they could by the method of “making a traditional request via the analyst”.

Mark Hamilton, South Yorkshire Police’s GIS manager, said the IMS had provided “significant business benefits” and made it “easier for the force’s decision makers to allocate resources based on informed decisions”.

“We’ve already had excellent feedback from members of the force who’ve found IMS easy to use and an asset to their decision making,” he added.

The IMS system supplements the Crime Analyst GIS system already in use at South Yorkshire Police.

Hampshire Constabulary was nominated for establishing the ACPO Freedom of Information Central Referral Unit, enabling it to become the coordinating authority for freedom of information requests across all UK Police forces.

Other nominations include: the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency’s MOT computerisation project, the Ministry of Justice DISC Transition team, for the successful transition of IT Services from six existing to two new suppliers, an

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