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How to empower law enforcement with digital technology

Public safety agencies need integrated and flexible digital capabilities to improve cybersecurity and to better serve and protect


Sponsored by Hexagon

By Police1 BrandFocus Staff

There is no doubt that law enforcement agencies are facing all kinds of challenges these days. It is also clear that modern technological solutions can help level the playing field.

Digital transformation can empower law enforcement at all levels to be better prepared and improve transparency.
Digital transformation can empower law enforcement at all levels to be better prepared and improve transparency. (Getty)

In a recent Police1 webinar, “The changing law enforcement landscape: Empowering your team with technology,” experts Bill Campbell and Kirk Lonbom offered insights and ideas on how to make this happen. Campbell is senior vice president of global public safety for Hexagon’s Safety, Infrastructure & Geospatial division. Lonbom is Microsoft’s director of public safety and justice strategy.

Here are some highlights from the discussion:

Changing Times in Law Enforcement

The nature of law enforcement has changed substantially with the advent of digital technology. Public safety agencies now have to ingest a lot of different data all at one time, including video, text, pictures and audio. All this data must be integrated by an IT platform that is flexible and offers a user-friendly workflow while also complying with a range of state and federal standards.

These factors combined are transforming the way law enforcement agencies operate. If this transformation is done well, it makes these agencies more efficient and able to collaborate with other public safety agencies. When command staff and others in leadership positions can view information and reports in a more timely fashion, says Hexagon’s Bill Campbell, it increases situational awareness throughout the agency.

To address the need for more transparent, coherent, shareable and actionable information, Hexagon has selected Microsoft’s Azure cloud-based data management platform to support its public safety and security cloud products.

Challenges to Transformation, and Ways to Overcome Them

The benefits of going digital come with challenges. One of these is the need for agencies to fully train their personnel to move to new digital systems so that they can use them efficiently and with confidence.

“As we implement new technologies, we cannot assume that a three-day training is going to be sufficient,” said Microsoft’s Kirk Lonbom.

Rather, he advises agencies to begin the change management discussion early in the transition, well prior to bringing any technology into play.

“By ensuring that staff are fully trained and buy into the new technology, we’re going to do a lot better,” he said.

Introducing new technology into law enforcement agencies offers the opportunity to rebuild trust with the public, Lonbom added, but only if this implementation is done transparently and openly.

“Technology plays a major role in that transparency – for example, our ability to use this information and share it appropriately with the public,” he said.

Using high-quality applications designed for law enforcement is vital to successful transformations, adds Campbell.

“The application has to work, and the support needs to work,” he said. “If not, technology gets a bad name, it’s hard to do upgrades, and organizations avoid it.”

Why Hexagon Chose Microsoft Azure

The need to provide law enforcement with reliable applications that work motivated Hexagon to host its cloud-based products/services on Microsoft Azure.

“Microsoft is a global leader in cloud operations and deploying a public safety system in a cloud environment,” said Campbell, especially when it comes to compliance with a variety of local, state and federal government requirements. “Their understanding of cybersecurity as it pertains to putting applications in the cloud is absolutely top drawer.”

Conversely, Microsoft’s approach is to work with companies like Hexagon who know the deep ins-and-outs of the technology that’s needed to support the mission of their law enforcement customers and provide critical stability and cybersecurity.

“Our mission is to provide the operating platforms that keep things secure, reliable and resilient,” said Lonbom.

Policing During Unsettled Times

The technology solutions being used by law enforcement today have to be robust enough to work in a divisive society plagued by civil unrest. Both Hexagon and Microsoft believe that digital solutions enabled by the cloud can help law enforcement agencies do their jobs more effectively, efficiently and securely in today’s difficult times.

The in-depth cybersecurity offered by large, cloud-based companies such as Hexagon and Microsoft is superior to what individual police departments can do for themselves, thanks to economies of scale. Instead of building IT infrastructure from the ground up, a cloud-based firm can focus on providing the services and support needed.

Further, cloud-based law enforcement solutions are not affected by problems in the global supply chain, since their provisioning and support are handled by third parties, so agencies don’t have to wait on new hardware to upgrade their capabilities.

Preparing for Future Threats

Both speakers noted that technology is only part of the solution. Future threats like the next pandemic or the next war need to be anticipated through proactive planning and preparation, advises Campbell. A trusted partner can do the heavy lifting for your agency when it comes to anticipating new challenges.

“The only way law enforcement and public safety overall is going to stay on top of that is by working with companies who can at least tell you what the ‘art of the possible’ is,” said Lonbom. “We need to be proactive there and not be waiting until it’s time to share information to have the governance in place. Our professionals need to be thinking about who do I need to share information with and how can I get those agreements lined up in advance?”

Understanding threats, the severity of those threats and where they can come from is absolutely imperative, adds Campbell.

“As technology changes, the threats change as well, and folks in your organization need to understand that educating themselves is absolutely imperative,” he said. “Then the business case can be made to upgrade the technology, and to be prepared and be resilient to the unfortunate events that are going to happen.”

To help your agency address current and coming challenges facing law enforcement, look for a provider that has invested in understanding the rules and regulations pertaining to public safety. Look for a system that can grow, change and adapt so it doesn’t turn into a legacy system as soon as it’s installed. A trusted, experienced technology partner like Hexagon can provide critical expertise and support to help your agency establish a solid foundation of digital capabilities and provide critical operational support.

For more information, visit Hexagon Public Safety online.

Watch Next: Webinar: The changing law enforcement landscape: Empowering your team with technology

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