What enables you to do really great work? Motivation to do a good job and belief in what you are doing are important. You also need access to the right tools and resources — be they pen and paper, a complex software package, or your team and their expertise. And you need the freedom to decide how you are going to pull all this together to achieve your goals.
I’ve recently seen how Wiltshire Police Force has used technology to bring together the combination of drive, the right tools and the freedom to act. Working with Wiltshire Council, it has developed a new approach to policing that empowers staff members to decide how, when and where they work in order to best serve the local community.
The organization deployed 600 tablets and laptop PCs, all powered by Intel® Core™ i5 processors, placing one in each patrol vehicle and giving some to back-office support staff. The devices connect (using 3G) to all the applications and systems the officers need. This allows them to check case reports, look up number plates, take witness statements, record crime scene details, and even fill in HR appraisal forms, from any location.
It’s What You Do, Not Where You Do It
Kier Pritchard is the assistant chief constable who drove the project. He and his team follow the philosophy that “work should be what you do, not where you go”. By giving officers the flexibility to work anywhere, he’s empowering them to focus on doing their jobs, while staying out in the community.
“We’re seeing officers set up in a local coffee shop, or the town hall,” he said. “In this way they can keep up to date with their cases, but they’re also more in touch with the citizens they serve.”
The other advantage of the new model is that officers can be much more productive. There’s no more driving to and from the station to do administrative tasks. Instead, they can catch up on these in quiet periods during their shift. “This essentially means there’s no downtime at all for our officers now,” said Pritchard.
The introduction of this new policing approach has gone down well with Wiltshire’s officers. They’ve taken to the devices enthusiastically and are regularly coming up with their own ways of using them to improve efficiency and collaboration.
In addition to making the working day more productive and rewarding for its staff, the mobile devices have also made a big difference to Wiltshire residents. Specialists in different departments of the police force are able to collaborate much more effectively by sharing their findings and resources through an integrated platform, making the experience for citizens much smoother. Areas in which the devices are used have also seen an improvement in crime figures thanks to the increased police presence within the community — for example in the town of Trowbridge, antisocial behaviour dropped by 15.8 percent, domestic burglaries by 34.1 percent, and vehicle crime by 33 percent.
You can read more about how the officers are using the devices to create their own ideal ways of working in this recently published case study or hear about it in the team’s own words in this video. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your views on the role of mobile technology in empowering the workforce — how does it work for you?
Find me on LinkedIn.
Keep up with me on Twitter.