The police are seemingly well on the way to cracking the case when it comes to cloud adoption – with findings from a Freedom of Information request conducted by SoftwareONE showing two thirds of police forces are now using public cloud, writes Kevin Johnson, key account manager at SoftwareONE
Migrating to the cloud unlocks many benefits for the police; fragmented by nature, the police is made up of 48 forces that all employ different technology platforms and processes. This presents a unique challenge and impacts their ability to easily share data, track trends and ultimately reduce crime. Adopting the cloud and creating a standardised, force-wide IT platform will improve data sharing and enable police in different locations to navigate the modern crime-scape together.
Recent government programmes like the Policing Vision 2025 and the National Enabling Programme (NEP) also aim to roll out digital transformation programmes nationwide, to help forces overcome today’s new and evolving crime challenge. The same FoI data shows that 66 per cent of forces have already begun projects under the NEP. So, is it case closed? Well, not quite. Adoption of cloud is only half the story; forces need to think carefully both about how cloud services and infrastructure will be managed post-migration, and how to ensure maximum ROI is achieved.
Case (not) Closed
Cloud is crucial to achieving the Policing Vision 2025 and accelerating digital transformation. However, the initial cost of adopting cloud can be a significant investment – police forces need to employ effective cloud management processes and real-time monitoring to ensure ROI. Maintaining compliance and security, optimising cloud usage, ensuring services perform as planned, and offering support and maintenance in case of any faults are all crucial to getting the most from the cloud.
Cloud management processes help police forces by giving access to digestible and understandable real-time performance and consumption analytics. This lets police IT teams create accurate budgets, monitor consumption to ensure costs remain within expenditure predictions, and better plan further purchases – especially important as public sector services continue to operate on reduced budgets. In addition, robust cloud management will ensure business-critical applications remain available and that downtime is minimised. This is essential – for instance, if a police control room runs from a cloud-based infrastructure, anything more than a few minutes downtime would be unthinkable.
Building the Police Case
The next step is to make sure people are using resources that have been paid for. When police first migrate to the cloud, it’s often the case that with platforms like Microsoft 365 or the Google Suite, forces take ‘quick wins’ like using Outlook or Gmail for email, but neglect the other features. It pays off to explore what your chosen platform can offer you; a recent Forrester TEI report, for example, highlights the importance of this, showing using Microsoft Teams (which comes as part of the Microsoft 365 packages) reduces the number and duration of staff meetings – resulting in total savings of $6.9 million over three years. These savings are crucial for cash-strapped public sector bodies like the police and can boost collaboration across the different forces through functions like file sharing and instant messaging.
Today’s police force faces a whole host of new and evolving challenges, as the surface area for crime has expanded in the digital era. This means a unified police approach is needed now more than ever to deal with crime on a national scale in real-time; police access to a centralised data bank should be a key priority for forces. As the police seek to digitally transform and reach the standards set out by the Policing Vision 2025, all 48 UK forces will find cloud a key part of their journey. While adoption is largely now underway, the police must remember that the work doesn’t end there. While NEP projects and cloud migration are undeniably important, monitoring and optimising cloud services post-adoption are vital to the police fight against evolving crime challenges.