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City of London praises move to cloud management system

City of London were the first force to move to a cloud management system and it had paid dividends the Police Digital summit was told.

After a two-year development period, the Director of ICT at City of London Police has said the force’s move to the cloud has made a “huge difference”. 

Speaking at the Police Digital Summit today, Jonathan Chapman, spoke about the benefits of the modern management cloud system which provides a central, never-ending storage facility that people can work within which means they don’t have to transfer data between their device and the cloud in order to process. 

Using Microsoft’s Azure Cloud, the force has become more flexible with working patterns and are now looking at ways to build on the foundations, he told the summit.  

“We entered Covid with people not able to go and work from home,” he told a panel at the summit. “That was a poor state to be in.” 

He said in his notes for the session, he had written “bog-standard” next to the force's former way of working which centred around a Windows 7 environment combined with “rubbish devices”. 

At the start of the pandemic, the force trialled a hybrid model, where they attempted to bring the old system up to standard at the same time as installing the new one, which he said went “disastrously”.

So instead they focussed on implementing the new cloud system. 

The old Windows 7 devices would cost £270 and take three days to manufacture, compared with the new devices which can be configured and shipped for £16. 

“That’s a huge difference and that way of working has made a tangible saving,” he said. 

Devices also do not have to go through a police building, but can be shipped straight to the user. The system also updates iteratively rather than waiting for a user to initiate updates. 

“[Formerly], everybody was going back to same static location and it didn’t work," he said.  

“With the combination of phones and Surface Go you can work anywhere.” 

While the foundations of the Cloud are already paying dividends, Mr Chapman said the force was already looking at future possibilities. 

Under their Secure City Programme, they have replaced ageing steel technology, part of the ‘ring of steel’ which was all physically wired, with a new digital system which runs over the internet. It includes cameras and sensors. 

It is already live and provides quality images, but they are looking at further future options including sensors on bridges which can detect when someone has jumped and provide an alert. 

Digital forensics is a further area being explored as the cloud provides scalable, never-ending storage. Using the Azure virtual desktop, officers would be able to process data in the cloud rather than bring it off and put it back again, he said.  

Mr Chapman admitted there had been cultural issues. 

“We have struggled with cultural change. 

“The challenge will be getting people at the heart of the business using the applications and business tools we’ve got better.

“It’s one to keep working on, we haven’t got there yet.” 

He told Police Oracle that he believed other forces were in varying stages of development with regards to the use of cloud storage. 

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