NSW Police forays into public cloud

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NSW Police forays into public cloud

New tech keeps cops away from their desks.

The NSW Police Force will today kick off a four-week trial of a new electronic solution that will allow officers to issue traffic fines from a tablet, removing the need to return to the station and manually enter data.

It is estimated that traffic officers each currently spend an hour a day transferring the details of traffic incidents into the central Computerised Operational Policing System (COPS).

The new tool is expected to save 240,000 police hours and $1.2 million per year once the capability is fully rolled out.

The NSW Parliament passed legislation last week that will see email and text-message notices given the same legal status as a paper notice received via snail mail. Unlucky drivers caught speeding or running a red light will be given the option of providing an email or phone number to receive fine details electronically if they so choose.

Superintendent Karen McCarthy, who is managing the trial, told iTnews that even if offenders don't opt in for an the electronic notice, the details of the incident will be still be collected electronically.

The new capability also marks the NSW Police’s first experiment with cloud computing.

The solution will be hosted in the Amazon public cloud, with “a security solution wrapped around” the data which satisfies state government regulation when it comes to information protection, McCarthy said.

The information will only exist in the public cloud for as long as it takes to be transmitted to COPS, and then it will be deleted from both the hosting solution and the device.

Once in COPS, updates will happen in real time, the value of which will be “enormous” to both the Police and other agencies in NSW, McCarthy said. She expects the program to have an impact on the workload of the government’s debt collectors as well.

“One of most common causes of follow-up phone calls to the state debt recovery office is an inability to read police handwriting,” she said. "This will get around that."

The trial will be carried out by 20 officers equipped with tablet devices and Telstra 3G routers working within the Hunter Valley, Rose Bay, Sutherland, Moree and Goulburn local area commands.

Traffic infringements just the beginning

McCarthy said the real pay-off for frontline cops will be realised when this same capability is expanded to encompass the recording of other volume crimes like move-on notices and apprehended violence orders, adding to a reduction in officer desk time.

She said a huge proportion of the force are under 25 and are desperate to utilise the native capabilities of their smartphones and tablets in the field.

"But we spend a lot of money and change management effort teaching them to use IT from the 1990s," she said.

Geocoding logged incidents and sharing this information could be used to identify black spots and target crime areas.

The Force is currently trialling a range of mobile devices, and is aligning its back-end systems to facilitate mobile access, before putting its case to Treasury for a broad roll-out.

Demand from the frontline has also been the driving force between the internal development of the infringement notice solution.

"This is a trial of a culture and approach, not just a technology," she said. "Usually business is driven out of BTS [Business & Technology Services, the Police IT team]. We want to turn that around a bit."

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