The Metropolitan Police service has turned to Microsoft as it develops ways to integrate more technology into the investigation process, the company said today, announcing the Met’s use of new Azure and Microsoft 365 services.
“Innovative digital investigation processes are being developed using Azure’s capabilities to speed up the investigation process, and provide senior management clearer oversight of investigation costs” the company said.
As the Met moves its data sets to the cloud this will allow them to use machine learning and AI algorithms that could speed up investigation or glean new insights from crime statistics. (In answer to questions from Computer Business Review, a Microsoft spokesman said this would not include use of its facial recognition API).
All Met employees will also be giving full access to Microsoft 365 services which will allow them to use not just the usual applications of PowerPoint, Word and Excel, but opens up collaboration applications like Microsoft Teams and OneDrive to Met members. So far 45,000 users have been migrated to Office 365 in a new contract.
Due to the nature of the client Microsoft are quick to point out that all information shared by the force will be secured using Microsoft’s E5 security platform. This platform lets users restrict access to documents and emails so that only authorised individuals can view them. All messages can be encrypted.
Angus McCallum, Chief Information Officer at the Metropolitan Police Service commented in a release that: “Technology gives us the most incredible opportunity to identify more offenders, intervene before crimes are committed, locate fugitives or missing persons, as well as proving associations and motivations. But importantly, technology gives our evidence greater integrity and gives us greater legitimacy.”
“Our work with Microsoft will enable us to seize the opportunities enabled by digital technology to achieve the best outcomes in the pursuit of justice and the support of victims.”
Builds on Existing Metropolitan Police Microsoft Use
The move towards integrating technology into the Metropolitan Police Service is part of the “One Met: Digital Policing Strategy,” which has laid out that a cloud –first principle should be adopted whenever is possible.
New Signature, a UK-based Microsoft partner, was selected by the Met last year to help them migrate legacy applications and databases to the cloud.
To facilitate this move New Signature created a “cloud clinic,” essentially a support centre where different Met teams can drop in to discuss what type of applications they need to operate efficiently day-to-day.
The slow pace in modernising the force was highlighted in a House of Commons 2018 Policing for the Future report that stated that: “We have serious concerns about the police service’s digital capabilities, including the skills base of officers and staff and the technological solutions available to them.”
“It is astonishing that, in 2018, police forces are still struggling to get crucial real-time information from each other, and that officers are facing frustration and delays on a daily basis. Forces are facing rapidly-evolving threats from criminals who exploit new technology in advanced and innovative ways, yet their own technological solutions are not always up to the task.”