NSW Police will soon begin technical specifications underpinning the massive overhaul of its 17-year old mainframe-based COPS system, in conjunction with new partner Deloitte under a three year, $5.2 million contract.
The policing agency was given $44.8 million in funding until 2016 in the 2013-14 state budget for the modernisation of its computerised operational policing system (COPS).
The system is integral to the everyday operations of the force. Police use it to log incidents of crime, gather intelligence, and issue charges and infringements, among other things.
COPS had been a text-only data entry and retrieval system. In late 2011 the agency partnered with Fujitsu to lay a web-based interface, ‘WebCOPS’, on top of the system which provided better search capabilities and integration with other systems.
The move was the first in a lengthy program of works under its core policing systems modernisation program, which will eventually see all of COPS migrated off the mainframe and onto J2EE and HTML5 technology.
As of this month, Deloitte will begin putting together the specifications for three stages of build work that NSW Police will progressively put out to tender.
Deloitte will not be able to compete for the build tenders, but as part of its contract will provide quality assurance on the projects.
It will create specifications for the new COPS community portal, spatial data, and event and intelligence systems and processes.
The first stage of work involves a community portal — a way for citizens to interact with police online, access relevant information, and possibly report and updates details of criminal incidents through the web.
"The scope of the community portal still has to be finalised but for the community to be able to access data securely, we will need to integrate it into the backend," NSW Police CIO Chris Robson told iTnews. "It will also provide another means of communication between victims and investigating officers."
NSW Police plans to have delivered the community portal in 15 months time, and will appoint a provider for the project in the middle of this year.
The second stage of work Deloitte has been contracted to scope involves spatial data. NSW Police currently uses some client-based tools such as MapInfo to present spatial data in tabulated form, but has identified a need for a common, more centralised platform.
“Officers have to produce maps for operational purposes, so they always need tools where they can conveniently access information in a map, not in a text box.,” Robson said.
The final piece of work revolves around events (criminal incidents) and intelligence (suspected information). The rewriting of those systems present the biggest pieces of work, Robson said.
"[When] the NSW Police receives calls for service, some turn into events, some get turned into cases (investigations). All information provided to police has value in helping solve crimes or preventing them," he said.
Most of the master reference data supporting the components of the system will be migrated completely off its present mainframe host and onto the new platform, Robson said, but there will be some functionality still left sitting on the mainframe at the end of the project.
"Charge process and case management will remain on the mainframe until the next stage. We’re not going to take this off [the mainframe] all at once, but they will come off eventually," he said.
"The program is designed so that you can finish one phase and get the benefits before you start the next."