Apps, self-service and touchscreens
at the Danish National Police
The Danish National Police are in full swing with the implementation of mobile technologies in their organisation. ConsultantNews had a chat with the IT Director responsible to get insights on a continuous process to develop new initiatives.
Interview with Michael S. Hansen,
IT Director, the Dnish Police.
Like most other public- and private-sector organisations, over the last five years the Danish National Police has had a rationalisation agenda. In just a few years, a deficit that ran to a treble-digit million-kroner amount in 2009 had to be turned into a balanced budget. Today, this goal has been reached, thanks to numerous restructuring and streamlining projects. "IT is often a key player in the streamlining game and one of the new elements is Mobility investments," says Michael Steen Hansen, IT Director in the Danish National Police's Group IT department.
"If I were to define what we mean by Mobility, it is the right and opportunity to access and use data and services, whatever the time, place and platform. This applies to the general public, employees or partners. Many people would define Mobility as having a mobile device. But for me, the device is just a means or a platform. The vital aspect is what the device enables you to do," says Michael Steen Hansen.
Self-service and automation are key
He explains that the mobilisation wave reached the Danish National Police a few years ago, in the form of relatively simple functionality, but recently this development has been speeded up.
"Self-service and automation are two key concepts for us when it comes to Mobility," says Michael Steen Hansen.
"For example, today residents can report burglaries online, and do not need to queue up at the police station for a print of their police record. These are both examples of how citizens can serve themselves and the police can optimise its resources."
Based on the same self-service and automation principle, the Danish National Police recently launched a police app for iOS, Android and, most recently, Windows Phone. This app can, for example, be used to look up a bicycle frame number to check whether the bicycle has been reported stolen, find the nearest police station, or tip off the police with a text and images if something suspicious is observed.
"So for you Mobility is all about service?"
"Definitely. There are two aspects to this. On the one hand, we are following the Danish Agency for Digitisation's strategy of enabling the general public to use as many digital services as possible. On the other hand, in some cases this increased Mobility enables us to work better and smarter.
For example, we would like to be able to do as much as possible at the scene of a crime. This will safeguard legal evidence, since manual processes will now be digital, and also improve quality, because registration at the scene of the crime means that more details are captured," says Michael Steen Hansen.
Streamlining via apps
In typical police fashion, Michael Steen Hansen cannot "go into detail" about all of the police's plans to introduce additional digital and mobile services in the organisation. Yet he is happy to describe a couple of the solutions already announced.
"For example, we currently have a tender for a system for automatic number plate recognition in all police districts – so far this has only run as a trial scheme in certain districts, but with great success. I also see this as a Mobility project. Previously, an officer had to look up a number plate manually to check it. In future, there will be three scanners on the police vehicle, so when the patrol car drives past a car park, for example, the software will register all of the parked cars' number plates automatically, and it will not take many minutes for it to spot a car that is interesting for one reason or another," Michael Steen Hansen explains. "This is extremely effective. Bearing in mind that last year 21,000 number plates were stolen in Denmark, this technology will put a lot of pressure on criminal elements."
The other example is BIFROST, a touchscreen connected to a PC in the patrol vehicle, which is replacing and combining obsolete technology on a new platform. Using BIFROST, from their patrol cars police officers will be able to quickly and easily look up the information they need, so that they do not have to call into the control centre.
Mobility projects are a journey
Michael Steen Hansen describes how an investment in Mobility solutions is an extensive outlay. There are many choices to be made and exacting security procedures to observe before new initiatives are ready for implementation.
"The first service is always very expensive to develop. After that, the organisation will find that each new application is cheaper and faster to launch," says Michael Steen Hansen, adding:
"In overall terms, I would call it a journey. You cannot do everything you would like to from the outset. I think this is how it will always be, whether you are the Danish National Police, Carlsberg or Danske Bank. Mobility is constantly developing. You have to focus on what you can do right now and then be prepared to wait to take the next step until you are geared up for it, technologically and organisationally."
"If you could turn the clock back five years, what would you have done differently?"
"I have only been with the Danish National Police for two years, but if I had been able to give my colleagues a tip back then, it would probably have been to take a different approach to the security model. Within the last two to three years, it has become generally known that not only individuals, but also national states, are actively engaged in cyber attacks. This has made it extremely difficult to prevent these attacks completely, so a whole new approach to IT security needs to be taken. Thinking as usual is just not enough. Security strategies must be developed continuously," says Michael Steen Hansen.
Mobility consultants will be the stars
He also has some good advice for the Mobility consultants who are currently in such high demand in the market, because far more Mobility projects are being planned and performed today than just a few years ago.
"It is extremely important for the Mobility consultant to be aware that he or she needs to be far more skilled than ten years ago. They need to be able to do more things – such as the three mobile operative systems, security, VPN, encryption, integration and back-end programming. When you develop an app, it is not enough to focus on the app – you have to include the entire food chain, right from the start. Security is a case in point. You can create the world's best app, but if it is not secure to use, it will never be used. Not by us at any rate," says Michael Steen Hansen, who concludes:
"On the other hand, Mobility also presents a lot of opportunities. The consultants who are good at Mobility will be the stars. I am sure that what we are doing at the Danish National Police could be copied to any other company with a mobile workforce. The framework concept could be used anywhere."
BIFROST consists of a touchscreen that is supported by a computer. It combines look-ups in the central registers, the SINE radio (SIkkerhedsNettet is a shared radio system for the Danish emergency services, ed.), emergency calls, fleet management and navigation in one simple tool. BIFROST also provides a whole new data search option. When a vehicle licence number's data is searched, for example, National Civil Register data and any data from the Central Criminal Register for the person who is the vehicle's main driver will be displayed automatically.
The Danish National Police
The Danish National Police is the highest police authority in Denmark. The Danish National Police sets the general framework for the entire Danish police service, i.e. draws up strategies, supports the police districts' work and coordinates police work at national level. The Danish National Police is headed by the National Police Commissioner and is structured as four main areas: The four main areas are the Police area, Group Management, Group IT and Group HR. In addition, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) lies under the Danish National Police. The Danish National Police has a total workforce of around 14,000 people.