Met Police to scrap half of its IT systems, says interim CTO

The Met Police will decrease its number of IT systems from 520 to 'about' 200 by 2017, interim CTO Stephen Deakin has said.

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The Metropolitan Police is set to reduce its number of IT systems from 520 to ‘about’ 200, according to its interim CTO Stephen Deakin.  

The force will invest £200 million by 2017 to replace its core IT estate and hand out 4G iPads to officers. It is set to buy 16,000 body-worn video cameras by spring 2016, Deakin told ComputerworldUK. 

“We’re procuring a core policing package off-the-shelf to replace a lot of our legacy applications, which we need to consolidate and virtualise," he said.

The force awarded Lockheed Martin a £90 million contract to replace its command and control system in August 2014. The system is currently provided by Unisys through a deal due to expire this October. It will be the first 'major refresh' of the system in three decades.

A scathing London Assembly committee report in August 2013 described the force’s IT as ‘out-of-date, ineffective and overly expensive’ and said 70 percent of its ICT systems are ‘redundant’.  

Deakin claims he was “delighted” with the report, published three months after he arrived at the Met.

“There was nothing I could do about that. I came here to fix problems. The interesting thing about the Met is that it is so old in terms of technology, we could leapfrog a few generations and go to high-scale virtualisation, hybrid cloud, big data and definitely mobility as well”, he said.

Met Police officers will start to wear body-worn video cameras from spring next year as part of a drive to improve transparency, according to Deakin.

“We’re great believers in the technology. It’s a case of looking at the market and picking the right vendor to meet our needs. We’re looking for an end-to-end solution, not just devices. We’re looking for something that can take digital evidence all the way through the system,” he said.

The Met will split up its current IT outsourcing deal with Capgemini into multiple contracts with different suppliers when it expires in December 2015, Deakin explained. It is currently part-way through procurement exercises for the various different parts of its IT estate, he said.

The force recently signed a deal with Vodafone to give 20,000 officers 4G-enabled iPad minis so they can take witness statements, take photos, issue crime reference numbers and access internal systems on the beat.

The force is also preparing to move from its headquarters in New Scotland Yard to new premises at the Curtis Green building on Victoria Embankment.  

“So we’ve got to get all of those legacy systems and equipment out of there this year,” Deakin said.

The Met hopes that by improving data management it can make better use of analytics and ‘predictive policing’ tools, matching data to identify suspects and deploy resources more efficiently, he added.

However, Deakin says his main bugbear is the amount of paper and duplication of data entry at the force.

“It amazes me how much paper I still have to sign, for expenses and so on. And we need to stop typing stuff in more than once. Less time typing into systems that were built in the 1970s and 1980s will be crucial,” he said.

The Met is currently recruiting a new CIO to replace John Lowry, who has held the role on an interim basis since Richard Thwaite stepped down in January after a two-year stint.

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