Cloud computing for law enforcement
By Matt Ilijic, Policing and Public Safety Lead, Accenture Australia
Friday, 05 August, 2016
Intelligence is the lifeblood of policing. Whether in the field or conducting an investigation, police officers need the most up-to-date information and intelligence to guide their resource requirements and decision-making. In some situations, accurate and timely intelligence can mean the difference between life and death.
As budgets decrease, digital technologies are providing police with new, more cost-effective ways to manage investigations and operations. At the same time, agencies are scaling up their use of in-car video and body-worn cameras in response to public demand for improved transparency and accountability in policing.
The growing complexity of crime is also contributing to a shift towards digital tools and strategies. Law enforcement agencies are realising the value of data analysis to support policing efforts locally, nationally and even across international borders.
In London, the Metropolitan Police Service recently applied analytics to identify concentrated networks of gang activity and to predict criminal recidivism. Late last year, the Seattle Police Department initiated a data analytics platform to support management and governance objectives and leadership decision-making.
While these innovations have tremendous potential to enhance policing efforts, many public safety organisations are quickly reaching the limits of their on-site data management capabilities. But police departments can expand capacity and continue to collect and mine data with cloud technology.
The following are some key advantages police agencies can accrue in moving to the cloud.
Flexibility and scalability
Cloud-based services are ideal for police services that have fluctuating bandwidth demands. Periods of high demand related to particular projects or investigations, major events or crime spikes in certain areas may require a scale-up or scale-down arrangement.
Policing is never static. Having a degree of agility via a cloud-based service provides real flexibility to manage current and future application environments.
Automatic updates, disaster recovery and reduced costs
With a cloud-based service, a police service can reduce its IT commitments of having to stay abreast of regular updates, hardware refreshes and disaster recovery requirements — freeing up resources and enabling it to focus on its primary objectives.
Cloud technology uses the dynamic provisioning of hardware, software or services over a network to increase efficiency, flexibility and scalability, which can reduce costs compared with traditional in-house server environments. Cloud services can also facilitate better coordination between law enforcement agencies on a domestic and international scale.
Unfortunately, the majority of law enforcement agencies currently rely on outdated, disparate data management systems that keep information in silos, reducing their ability to deliver information and intelligence to officers where and when it’s needed.
With cloud computing, all files are stored centrally and help provide one version of the truth. Having one version of the truth streamlines business processes and ensures that police are accessing the right information when needed.
Data security is a primary concern for many agencies when considering cloud. A breach of case data and other public safety information could spell disaster for an investigation or jeopardise the integrity of police operations.
But cloud computing solutions can equip IT with better controls to manage and monitor permissions, access and use, and data administration, while also providing the highest level of protection from security threats.
Importantly, cloud can provide greatly improved protection against denial-of-service attacks that can threaten key service delivery functions.
Many organisations still view investment in cloud technologies as cost-prohibitive, even though newer, less expensive cloud solutions are now available.
The cloud can help police departments realise cost savings by offering one data-storage system and avoiding the additional cost and complexity of dealing with multiple vendors with silo data architectures.
The crime landscape is constantly changing, and law enforcement agencies must evolve their digital capabilities to prepare for the next generation of public safety threats. Data management is key to fighting crime in the digital age, and cloud computing technology provides the framework for success. Cloud-based technology is inevitable and law enforcement agencies should be embracing the opportunities it presents.
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