4 posts • joined 14 Feb 2011
Didn't I already read this article next week?
@John Smith 19
Good point about the cost/benefit analysis - no, but that's probably because those aren't generally visible from the supplier's side. But the tender process for most of these type of systems are typically bragged about for ages in the press by either the home office, NPIA or the forces, so you can generally put two and two together. To be fair, most of them aren't "must have new tech" decisions, because the govt wouldn't sign them off. Having said that, there does seem to be a degree of oneupmanship between forces, so an element of that creeps in later.
The real problem with forces going in different directions is that the IT body "representing them" (was PITO, now NPIA, next God-knows-who) can recommend, but ultimately has no teeth. Every time someone gets close to giving them the ability to mandate purchasing, a bunch of Chief Constables kick back saying that their force needs something different because of the way they work, yada yada yada.
Since Soham->Bichard, the appearance of the PND gives NPIA a carrot to use on the forces instead of a stick. Since the forces *have* to work with PND, they start moving in the direction of common data formats, at least for centralised intelligence. However, for all other systems (Custody, Case Prep, Command & Control etc) the bets are still off.
Re: your last paragraph - no, only a small subset of the forces' info is sent to PNC/PND, and that's only at the will of the local coppers. Everyone still has their own datasets and they're all fiercely protective.
The only things that will change the way the police buy their IT are a real effort by government to align the way forces do their day-to-day work, and some serious investment (both money and time) in the tendering process (instead of just handing it to some bored fifty-something coppers on the way out to retirement).
@Piri Piri Chicken
"In reality, it's not, it is a series of disjointed, fragmented and dated computer systems. You then have a series of disjointed, fragmented, and budgetarially challenged forces having to run their own systems to feed into their own area"
The PNC *is* one system - albeit a horrific mainframe-y ADABAS natural DB. That's the bit that was *supposed* to centralise police intelligence, but forces don't have to put everything on it. Each force has its own guidelines as to whether something ends up on PNC or not. However, you're right about all the other systems being disjointed and fragmented.
The much-touted PND won't help with this, as long as nobody is mandating what forces have to upload onto it.
Too much information, my arse
The only thing this serves to demonstrate is Forces' (and NPIA's) complete bloody inability to identify how their business works and translate it into accurate representative use cases. This isn't about too much information, it's about the fact that none of the ANPR systems were capable of notifying external systems/users of hits against a categorised "hit list" of plates. If your ANPR system is just sitting doing passive monitoring, every time you go through a dodgy area, of course it'll generate enough crap to keep you busy for months.
I've been working in development of Police IT systems for nearly twenty years, and I've yet to see a requirements spec for a system which comes anywhere close to actually defining what they need. I'm not surprised to see senior staff blaming the system, as usual.