Data and tech hub keeping constabularies at cutting edge of policing

Cumbria Constabulary continues to stay at the forefront of digital innovation for frontline policing, meaning more officers can be out in communities for longer, through a partnership with Durham Constabulary and a link-up with Microsoft and Tisski.

Investment provided through the county’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is continually allowing officers to do more on their mobile devices through the creation of specially-designed apps for different tasks.

The technology will give officers greater access to up-to-date info at touch of a button, including details on people or places officers are dealing with.

This technology, created through work with Microsoft and its partner Tisski, is also intended to be used for greater interaction with the public.

It allows officers and staff of all ranks and in all roles to suggest new applications that could help their jobs, particularly frontline police. IT staff would then put the ideas into practice.

Using the technology means the two police forces are ensuring officers have both the correct resources and skills to tackle crime in an increasingly digital-focussed world.

Currently apps are being used for tasks such as taking witness statements, acting as a pocket notebook and dealing with vehicle tickets, with more to follow.

The apps can be designed at short notice to the specifics needed in the particular force areas and department.

Cumbria and Durham constabularies already have an ongoing partnership in which they collaborate across a range of functions and they have partnered with Microsoft and Tisski on the development of these apps.

This Data and Technology Innovation Hub is to be used to develop more apps to help police tackle crime and keep people safe in an ever-changing world.

Chief Constable Michelle Skeer said: “This gives us the ability to be innovative with cutting edge technology, developing new solutions at speed.

“It also gives us increased visibility in our communities, which we know people want, as more can be done while officers are out-and-about, enabled on their handheld devices.

“It will give officers greater access to up-to-date info at touch of a button.

“It also allows us to be more innovation-led, reacting to requests from officers and staff on new and improved ways to do our jobs while keeping officers out in our communities.

“Ultimately, it helps our officers do their jobs better for the benefit of tackling and deterring crime and keeping the communities of Cumbria safe.”

Chief Superintendent Jonathan Blackwell said: “This new technology is aimed at helping operational policing – the officers on the frontline keeping our communities safe.

“As the world evolves, so do the demands on police forces.

“Crime is changing and the complexity of crime is changing because the way we live our lives is becoming more and more digital, which has been emphasised during the pandemic.

“Our officers need the competence and confidence to operate in a digital world.

“If our staff have no access to technology, they will still be operating in a digital world.

“So maximising the use of technology allows us to work differently and better, more effectively and more efficiently.

“We’re delighted to be working in this technology innovation hub.

“It allows us to design and build apps at short notice that are what our officers and staff need to tackle and deter crime and keep people safe. It can make a real difference.”

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Technology is constantly advancing, as is policing and indeed the way criminals operate too, across the world.

“I can confidently say that Cumbria Police are right at the front end of utilising digital technology to both get ahead of criminals but also to ensure that we give officers the best tools to help them to be agile and responsive to the public.

“This is a fast-moving area of business but with the potential to really make a positive impact on the service, engagement and availability we are able to offer to residents here in Cumbria.

“Cumbria is an incredibly large and rural county so just one area of business to improve is to be able to cut out the travel from crime scene to police station, or for specialist officers to be consulted remotely is a huge benefit to our officers and the public, but there are many other ways that these projects will improve service.

“The Constabulary, Microsoft and Tisski have done a fantastic job on getting this set up but even more exciting is the potential for much more development and I look forward to seeing what type of apps and functions will present themselves in the future and even more important seeing positive changes for the benefit of the wider public.“

Durham Chief Constable Jo Farrell said: “Our officers are working in an ever-changing digital environment and the demands on them are constantly changing.

“It’s vital that they have the ability to share, process and access information as efficiently as possible and this innovative approach to policing does just that.

“This is cutting-edge technology which streamlines how we are able to record data, which allows them to police more effectively and more efficiently.

“Perhaps most importantly, using these handheld devices also means our frontline officers can spend more time out and about in our communities, tackling criminals and deterring crime and ultimately protecting the people we serve”.

Joy Allen, Durham Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I welcome this innovative collaboration between Durham Constabulary and Cumbria Police in partnership with Microsoft and Tisski.

“This project will further drive benefits for all frontline officers and staff allowing them to be more visible whilst being out doing their jobs and engaging with our communities.

“This is an excellent example of modern day policing in an increasingly digital world as we really need to exploit the advanced technology to its fullest for the benefit of the public.”

Marie Abery, Dynamics Business Group Director at Microsoft UK, said: “Power Apps is empowering organisations to create their own tools that tackle inefficiencies, save time and reduce costs.

“This is crucial in the public sector, where value for money is a key consideration.

“I am delighted that Cumbria and Durham constabularies have taken solid steps into their digital future, from creating a single app to rolling out more apps that help officers connect with citizens.”

Anna Assassa, CEO, Tisski said: “Police forces are operating in ever increasingly diverse and complex communities which requires a more sophisticated response to the challenges they face.

“By adopting Power Apps for Policing, Cumbria and Durham Constabularies have put the power of Microsoft technology directly in the hands of frontline officers, and simplified a fragmented, stand-alone application infrastructure into a single, Microsoft platformed solution.”

Assassa continued: “With Tisski’s Power Apps for Policing, a force does not have to adopt an entire, predefined collection of apps. Instead, they  can choose to invest in those they feel would make the biggest impact.

“If a police force identifies a challenge that isn’t addressed by an existing app in the offering, we’ll create a new one to help them overcome it.”

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