This past October, I had the opportunity to attend the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference in Philadelphia. It’s an amazing event with thousands of vendors showing their products and various solutions. Seeing these solutions was a powerful reminder that law enforcement leaders have many options when they consider how technology can enable their future. Accenture is a technology-agnostic systems integrator, and that means we try to identify the best applications that can be integrated to help law enforcement agencies today. Through my work now, on the Accenture Public Safety team, and formerly as Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, I look for what will truly support the men and women of law enforcement in the work they carry out every day.
I believe looking to the future requires taking a chance on new, bold technology to improve service delivery and fight crime. But first, law enforcement leaders must carefully consider the choices before making a major investment in a new records management system (RMS), computer-aided dispatch (CAD) or other significant IT investment. These are some of the considerations I believe to be most important:
How quickly do we want to “plug in” to services?
Implementation can take more than a year for any major procurement, such as a RMS. Technology is advancing so quickly, that the solution may be obsolete before it is turned on. Departments that want to quickly plug in to new features and functionality should consider subscribing to services in a secure cloud. This allows for fast adoption, lower initial costs, painless upgrades and seamless integration and scalability. True, software as a service (SaaS) is more of an operating expense, but with the speed of change in the IT world, it is critical to adopt the new quickly – otherwise you can get left behind.
What environment will work best for our technology?
A cloud environment is needed for SaaS. My favorite benefit of the cloud is security. There is a misperception that on-premises software is far more secure than a cloud-based system. Not true. Major cloud providers invest heavily to ensure and maintain their system’s security. Consider natural disasters. On-premises “server farms” are susceptible to natural disasters or sabotage. Cloud providers have leaders in cyber security working around the clock to ensure data remains secure.
In addition to security, the cloud has a flexible infrastructure that gives the department scalability to meet spikes in demand or needs for expansion. Even the smallest police departments are ingesting massive amounts of data, especially with the increase in use of body-worn cameras. Cloud offers the necessary storage capability. From a financial standpoint, the upfront costs associated with the cloud are greatly reduced as the costs of hardware, servers, software and experienced IT staff drop. I’m not saying the cloud is the only way – a combination of cloud, hybrid-cloud, and on-premises may fit a department’s needs.
The future is fascinating, daunting and it’s happening today. Why wait to see it evolve when you can be among the IT leaders in law enforcement, embracing the new to support the critical work of policing? Let me know what you think.
See this post on LinkedIn: Future IT is today’s law enforcement edge.