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Cumbria partners with US company for new cloud-based system

Cumbria says its new force information system will be "more demanding" than a traditional Records Management system

Cumbria are working on developing a new cloud-based  operational information system that will be used by officers and staff in everyday policing. 

ACC Jonathan Blackwell told Police Oracle: “We were at the point where, as with many forces, we needed to create a new operational information system. 

“I stray away from the term RMS [Records Management System]. In 2022, we need to be a bit more demanding, it’s not about just storing records but about an operational information system which lets our cops and staff make some really good decisions at the right time by giving them all the information available.” 

The force has been working with US company Mark43 for a year, and expects the new system to be in place within the next two years. 

This first stage has been around ensuring the company understand the force’s requirements. 

ACC Blackwell said: “We want it to be intuitive, when you pick up an iPhone, you don’t go on a training course. 

“Our system will be designed with the end user experience in mind. There also needs to be more automation, more flow, we don’t want officers duplicating on different screens.

“Data quality will be built into this, data quality is a national issue and it can cost lives [...] It’s not just something that’s a bit of admin at the end, making sure the names are right, if we get the name wrong, we get a safeguarding response team who don’t pick up on it. 

“It’s about making all of this available to officers out there, pushing information towards them rather than them having to look for information.” 

He explained that currently sharing information with partners is seen almost as an add-on. Through automation however, data sharing can become a lot smarter.

Part of the reason they have gone with Mark43, he said, is because there’s not a widely available service to police in the UK for an end-to-end operational information system which is entirely cloud-based and live now. 

“There’s lots of other different systems in policing that are cloud-based in different forces, but around our operational information, the RMS, that’s the key for us moving towards that cloud-based option,” he explained. 

“Some of the other systems out there, they’re talking about trialling parts of it in the cloud, but we’re talking end-to-end from the outset.

“The more on-premise software you have, you need more staff, more capital investment. [With the cloud], there’s a number of steps you need to go through, and that includes security which for me is critical. It’s also about the responsiveness of the system, it helps with mobility, there’s all sorts of advantages to being with the cloud.” 

The national DDAT strategy sets out the move towards technologies that are accessible, scalable and easily maintainable which includes cloud technology. 

“The system will be designed in the cloud from the offset, what we will move to the cloud will be data. If there’s a key issue we have to plan for and are planning for is our data migration,” ACC Blackwell said. 

“[That said] if we took any other system in the UK, we would still have a data migration issue going from one system to another. 

“We’ve been planning for that in the last 12 months, to understand the resources, the technical skills that we need to do that, as well as the business rules that will be applied to it. That will be the biggest challenge I think.” 

ACC Blackwell said the new system will help the force address its data needs.

“It’s a reality,” he said. 

“Whether it be the software that we’re dealing with, or our digital skills, or digital leadership, digital is not an add-on. 

“There is no such thing as digital policing in 2022, anyone who thinks they have a digital policing team to deal with the digital stuff is kidding themselves. 

“Digital policing is just policing in 2022.” 

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