Reaching for the cloud

There is a growing consensus within policing that the ‘cloud’ is now the only way forward to manage the “deluge” of digital evidence that forces are increasingly faced with. As public sector budgets continue to be stretched, cloud technologies can provide police with new, more cost-effective and flexible ways to manage investigations and operations.

Jan 4, 2018
By Paul Jacques

There is a growing consensus within policing that the ‘cloud’ is now the only way forward to manage the “deluge” of digital evidence that forces are increasingly faced with. As public sector budgets continue to be stretched, cloud technologies can provide police with new, more cost-effective and flexible ways to manage investigations and operations.

“Evidence is the backbone of policing and as crimes continue to grow in complexity, it’s time for forces to look to the cloud to help manage the increase in digital evidence,” said Jamie Wilson, who is responsible for public safety marketing for NICE Systems throughout EMEA.

“As multimedia becomes abundant, evidence such as images and videos from mobile phones, CCTV, GPS (global positioning system) data, SMS texts and even automatic numberplate recognition play a greater part in criminal investigations.”

A report last year by the independent think-tank Reform, Bobbies on the net: a police workforce for the digital age, called for additional funding for digital technology in a bid to improve the digital capabilities in policing. While many forces are already deploying assets such as body-worn video (BWV), Mr Wilson says that for many, the reality is that these technologies are sitting among siloed, legacy IT systems.

“This reduces the ability to deliver information and intelligence to officers where and when it’s needed,” he added.

By utilising existing IT infrastructures and internet connections, Mr Wilson says police forces can integrate cloud technologies and realise valuable benefits.

“Whether it’s sharing data and coordinating with other departments on a local, regional and national scale or tapping into analytical tools, cloud-based technology is inevitable and police forces should be embracing the opportunities it presents,” he explained in his recent public safety blog.

James Butler, chief technology officer at IT services company Trustmarque, part of Capita, says it is “impossible to overstate the benefits of migrating applications to the cloud – “efficiency, cost, agility and security, to name but a few”.

And Allan Fairley, managing director, Police and Justice at Accenture, emphasised that the pivotal role of data in today’s technology-enabled policing means cloud computing now “provides a better way forward” and a “migration to the cloud seems inevitable”.

However, a report published last year by the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) and UKCloud cautioned that the public sector “must go beyond low-hanging fruit to achieve meaningful, cloud computing-fuelled digital transformation”.

It argued that if the public sector is to achieve the sort of transformation needed to keep pace with citizens’ expectations and do more with less, it must embrace cloud more wholeheartedly.

Alex Hilton, chief executive of CIF, said public sector organisations can find moving to the cloud a more “complex challenge” than their counterparts in the private sector.

“Long-standing and heavy investments in legacy technology can be obstacles to rapid adoption, while a lack of appropriate funding and a shortage of people with the right skills to manage cloud services act as a significant brake on progress. These obstacles must be navigated and addressed as a priority if the public sector is to progress and make a lasting break with old ways of working,” he added.

Simon Hansford, chief executive officer at UKCloud, said the research data indicates that many of the migrations seen to date in the public sector “have targeted the so-called ‘low hanging fruit’ – typically virtualised applications that can simply and easily be shifted into the cloud”.

“While this is a good start, to unlock the full potential of cloud and digital transformation, organisations need to tackle the complexity inherent in many processes, overcome the cultural barriers to adoption and seek to breach departmental silos,” he said.

“In many areas, this will require them to rethink the way that services are delivered and then truly embrace an agile, cloud-native approach while radica

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