Police eye smart warrant cards

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Police eye smart warrant cards

Single sign-on project will give officers access to all applications.

Police officers in England and Wales could be issued with smartcard-based warrant cards to access information systems as part of a multi-million pound single sign-on project.

A mandate from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) requires forces to adopt single sign-on for access to all police applications by April 2007.

Smartcards will be used to log in to systems to bolster security and provide greater mobility.

But the Police Information Technology Organisation (Pito), which is developing the system, is considering integrating the smartcards with warrant cards to further tighten security.

‘People tend to hold on to these warrant cards with their life so this will add security,’ said Roland Sinden, project manager at Pito. ‘It will also be part of procedural matters, if you lose your smartcard you will have to inform your line manager immediately.’

At the moment police use multiple applications, each with separate user IDs and access rights. The single sign-on system will simplify access to data across all systems regardless of location and force ownership.

‘Giving officers access away from their host force means less time off the beat,’ said Sinden.

‘The new system promises greater efficiency, flexibility and security through aligning administration processes across forces. Cutting down on administration means less time away from front-line policing,’ he said.

User details will be held in a national directory accessed by officers using the smartcard system, and will be updated and validated by national and local systems.

The project will be centrally funded by Pito, with individual forces expected to contribute. Sinden expects to see a return on investment in three to five years and a huge saving in IT support costs as a result of IT staff using their time more effectively.

Richard Naylor, president of the Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, says the single sign-on project is a step towards a much-needed national architecture for IT systems. But he has worries about its cost and advises Pito to look to similar systems already implemented.

‘My concern is it will take too long and be extremely costly. We need to learn from others and not reinvent the wheel,’ he said.

Pito expects to award contracts for the project between December and January. Implementation is due by April 2007.

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