In a bid to improve efficiency, Sussex Police has called in systems provider Stratus Computer to upgrade its Operational Information System (OIS), which is the nerve centre of the policing operation.
The OIS, the core of which is command and control, was originally implemented in 1992, but constant technological changes and the dramatic rise in the number of inbound calls in recent years - largely due to the emergence of the mobile phone - coupled with reductions in funding have greatly increased the pressure on police efficiency gains.
Accessibility is vital to the success of the OIS and to address this, Stratus installed mobile data terminals (MDTs), which enable officers to access the system from police cars. MDTs allow officers to provide incident data directly to response units as well as communicate confidentially between themselves. This overcomes the traditional issues with radio communications, eliminating the possibility of third parties monitoring or scanning conversations.
In addition, the MDTs allow officers to prioritise more urgent incidents while on the beat and previously desk-bound supervisors have been made more mobile.
The OIS has also been integrated with an existing powerful mapping application called Geographical Information System (GIS), which allows controllers to guide officers to incidents even in the remotest areas, greatly improving response times.
To ensure that the OIS is continuously available Ð which is essential for effective policing - it is run on Stratus' Continuum Server, which, the company says, is able to guarantee 99.999% reliability by the duplication of its parts and constant self-diagnostic routines.
If an error is recorded the machine will "phone home" online to Stratus and report the fault while the machine continues to run on the duplicated part, without any break in service. In the event of a hardware failure, the reliability of the service is ensured by a link-up to an equivalent Stratus System run by Gloucestershire Police.