NSW Police shoots for BYOD

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Upgrades systems to support cops of the future.

NSW Police is trialling Apple, Microsoft and Blackberry mobile devices as it moves to support a mix of police-owned and BYO devices.

The trials will inform NSW Police's first formal mobility strategy and cover a range of devices. The agency is also developing back-end web services to support mobile interaction.

NSW Police CIO Chris Robson said mobile technology could make officers more effective at their jobs and safer in the field.

“We’d also like to reduce the amount of time [officers] need to spend at end of shift completing data entry back at the station,” he said.

“If officers can conveniently update information as they go about their day it means they can spend more time out with the public.”

NSW Police expects to undergo a further year of trials before developing a full business case and approaching the market for mobile devices.

A full roll-out will likely take the best part of a year. NSW Police is yet to identify when funding for the project will be made available.

To address data security, Robson' team is currently evaluating one solution that puts a secure container on the end-user’s device to isolate and secure NSW Police data.

He said the organisation had been forced to change its thinking on security from automatically locking everything down. 

“We had really tight control in some areas, multiple levels of prescribed internet access - we blocked shopping sites, why?” he said in a speech to the Police Technology Forum last week.

"They’re not a security risk. It’s just a culture of lockdown. And in other areas we need to achieve more balance."

With an influx of technologically savvy police officers coming into the force, Robson said everybody had an opinion on which mobile platform was better.

He hoped to avoid risk by taking a platform-agnostic approach.

“Who will win, Microsoft, Google, Apple - everyone’s got an opinion,” he said. “I’ve got very senior people traipsing through the corridor extolling the virtues of Microsoft versus Apple, it’s like 1985 all over again.

“We’re saying if the architecture is work, it won’t be that relevant of a decision. We’re trying to avoid locking a lot of our work. We’re leveraging HTML5 standards and hybrid solutions as much as possible.”

Mobile-friendly COPS

NSW Police will upgrade its ERP system over Easter and is planning to update its Windows 7 desktop SOE later this year.

In the meantime, the organisation is updating its mainframe-based Computerised Operating Policing Systems (COPS), which has been in use for nearly 20 years. 

The system is core to the daily life of the force, and is used to log events and custody, gather intelligence, lay charges, issue infringements, record bail decision and apply for protection orders.

Under the first phase of its core policing systems modernisation program, NSW Police delivered a web-based COPS interface with better integration with other systems.

The current phase, due for delivery midway through this year, will provide better search capabilities via relational database technology and a replacement module for its Custody application, using J2E and HTML5 technology.

All of COPS will be migrated to J2E and HTML5 in later phases of the program. 

Robson said the Custody upgrade was the test of NSW Police's whole modernisation strategy.

The upgraded application is mobile-capable out of the box and runs on a range of devices. Robson also planned to bring it to Windows tablets using HTML5.

Read on for NSW Police's plan to rationalise legacy systems and a new program that puts IT staff in police cars.

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