Modernizing policing with cloud-first technology
September 28, 2022
By Peter Near and Tony Ventura
Modern policing demands modern methods. In Canada, Peel Regional Police (PRP) needed to create an autonomous, transparent service fostering full engagement with the local community, supported by a technology platform that could securely deliver ongoing innovation. The use of VMware Workspace ONE has accelerated the organization’s deployment of iPhones and body-worn cameras, equipping officers with the digital tools they need to be effective while also helping to hold them accountable for their actions.
Reimagining the role of the modern police officer
As policing changes, modern police services must be more transparent, accountable, and grounded in the communities they serve. Like many municipalities in North America, the population of the greater Toronto area is ethnically, culturally, and economically diverse.
“It means we almost have to step outside of the uniform,” says Deputy Chief Anthony Odoardi, PRP. “How would we ourselves like to be policed in our community? A human-centric approach to policing will enable us to better understand the needs of the community.”
While modern law enforcement must be human-centric, PRP wants to accelerate the digital transformation of its policing practices. Its mission is to be the most innovative police department in not only Canada but North America. Behind the scenes, PRP is switching to cloud-first and prefers ‘as-a-service’ consumption models, which translates to more technology in the hands of frontline officers, including smartphones and body-worn cameras.
The smartphone and a connected workforce are just the tip of the iceberg for PRP. Through applications that can revolutionize policing, officers can use their phones as a platform and find the applications they need, quickly and conveniently. By improving the day-in-the-life of a working officer, you can deliver a faster time to value and efficiently provide critical services.
In the first instance, PRP wanted to provide 2,000 iPhone 12 devices to officers, configured for personal use, but also hosting sensitive police applications with Zero Trust Security.
The rollout timeline was two months, and with COVID-19 restrictions in place, required zero-touch provisioning. Single sign-on capability ensured robust identity management.
Once the iPhone implementation was complete, PRP began the rollout of Axon Body 2 cameras.
Modern police services must be more transparent, accountable and grounded in the communities they serve.
Enabling the rollout of an app-centric workstyle
VMware Workspace ONE provides a single platform enabling PRP to deliver and manage devices and applications. Now, PRP can meet the tight deadlines of the iPhone rollout smoothly and efficiently, while preserving the flexibility to accommodate other device types in the future.
With a pipeline of digital transformation projects in place, the operational simplicity inherent in VMware Workspace ONE Access reduces the strain on the PRP team. “It also enables a seamless experience for the user, for as many applications as is necessary, with a single sign-on,” says Marco Novielli, supervisor, systems, and information security, PRP.
To help PRP ensure compliance and lock down critical systems, the organization uses VMware Carbon Black App Control. “Carbon Black App Control is the ‘secret sauce’ that allows us to run these legacy technologies safely and responsibly, while we take the time required to modernize and transform our services,” explains Novielli.
Prior to adopting VMware Carbon Black, the team relied on conventional antivirus protection, that would block only previously known threats. Regular security incidents left employees unable to work for up to 48 hours while Novielli and his team contained the threat and restored the files.
Building faith in technology to drive ongoing improvements
The deployment of 2,000 iPhones was completed in less than eight weeks. “The rollout was simple, allowing our back-end technology team to work from home,” says Novielli. “We know that most officers are already familiar with the iPhone. It’s not like when we issued laptops. This is technology they’re comfortable with.” It is now easier for officers to share images from a crime scene, search for information, dictate audio notes or check police databases.
PRP continues to use in-car computers and police radios, but the use of smartphones provides officers with greater autonomy, wherever the location. It is particularly empowering for officers on bike or foot patrol.
Deputy Chief Odoardi suggests the body camera system, managed through Workspace ONE, is as transformative as its other initiatives, improving accountability and transparency, and amplifying the gathering of digital evidence. Real-time connectivity from VMware Horizon will enable PRP to bring in remote experts to assist officers during live events. And it will help officer training and reassure officers working in the field that they are never alone.
The implementation of body cameras was a complex process, requiring PRP to introduce the program with care. “Body-worn cameras are a sensitive subject—for officers and the community,” says Deputy Chief Odoardi. “The project has required us to engage with stakeholders, and to do so authentically. From the community, there were concerns around where data is kept, and when and where filming is allowed. From frontline officers, there were worries about the recording of private moments. We resolved these concerns by being transparent about where this data would be used, managed, and stored. We also shaped our policies from this feedback, such as limiting camera usage in school settings or places of faith.”
Transformation requires momentum—and trust. The successful deployment of iPhones and body-worn cameras demonstrates to frontline officers and senior management that change can be delivered effectively.
Intelligent, strategic IT decisions will be critical to success in the era of connectivity. PRP recognizes that the future will be mobile, app-led, and require a greater emphasis on digital transformation. The force strives to challenge the traditional desktop world and to become an example for other forces across Canada to follow.
Successful, responsible use will encourage confidence in PRP as a leader in the adoption of new technologies as the organization moves toward data sharing, data analytics and artificial intelligence. The direction of travel is for officers to be increasingly connected and digitally enabled.
Peter Near is National Director of Technology, VMware Canada.
Tony Ventura is Director Information Technology Services, Peel Regional Police.
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