Why UK police consolidated software licenses to fight crime

13/08/2018

Photo of Ian Bell, CEO of The Police ICT Company and Deputy Chair of the NPTCThis is a blog by our CEO, Ian Bell.

Crime has always been a moving target, but never more so than in today’s digital world. The internet has opened up new channels for illegal behaviors—virtual back alleys where crime can go undetected and criminals routinely step between the digital and physical realms, leaving a complex trail of evidence that can be hard to follow.

At The Police ICT Company, our mission is to help police forces throughout the UK keep up with this evolving threat—and keep the public safer—through better information and communications technology.

Tracking down redundancies

When the Police ICT Company was formed in 2015, we set out to connect UK law enforcement with the commercial world, helping to buy, manage and implement technology more quickly and cost-effectively. Our commercial emphasis is on creating deals with suppliers that use the purchasing power of policing to deliver both cashable and cost avoidance savings to police forces.

One of the first opportunities we noticed among the UK’s 43 police forces and its partners was more than 120 contracts for the same IBM i2 software. Analysts in each organization knew the value of using the i2 suite to transform large quantities of disparate data into actionable intelligence. But their efforts were isolated, driving up costs.

The Police ICT Company, with support from the Home Office, unified these licenses into one master agreement and with two additional expenses, kicking off a long-term transformation of the policing community and saving £8 million in software licensing fees. In addition to IBM i2 Analyst’s Notebook, IBM i2 iBase, IBM i2 Enterprise Insight Analysis and other important tools, we also added IBM SPSS Modeler, IBM SPSS Advanced Statistics and other advanced analytics capabilities.

Transforming raw data into actionable intelligence

Because the agreement covers the whole UK, we spent a good deal of the first few years supporting policing in deploying and updating the software. We also wanted to make sure analysts had the skills to start using the tools if they weren’t already up to speed through training courses and e-learning modules.

For analysts, using analytical software is a necessity for tracking criminal activity. The visual analysis software in i2 makes it easier to find patterns and connections in the loads of data they handle every day, including telephone records, bank transactions, custody records and license plate tracking.

They can map out relationships and trace evidence geospatially and temporally. Suddenly, they can see the criminal networks clearly—who talks to whom, when key events occur and where it all happens on a map. This is actionable intelligence that helps solve cases faster.

Looking toward the future of policing

The master agreement for IBM i2 and SPSS software is one of the first steps in establishing shared standards in UK policing—a new way to think about budgets, intelligence and collaboration that we expect to ultimately improve public safety.

We think our efforts at The Police ICT Company are really showing the way forward for police forces in the UK and around the world. Not only does this type of unified contract give the individual forces increased spending power and access to more and updated software, it also makes advanced investigative tools accessible to more people in the policing community.

There is an enormous amount of potential here, and we’re excited to be a part of it.

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