For the past 10 years, the South Wales, Gwent, and Dyfed-Powys police forces have worked together to create positive impact in Wales. To cut costs without impacting frontline services, the forces decided to share some IT resources. Working with
a Microsoft Services Dedicated Support Engineer, the joint IT team created a solution that cut costs and gave officers immediate access to shared IT resources.
With a global downturn in the economy and the resulting cuts to public sector funding, organizations in the United Kingdom are challenged to cut costs without reducing frontline services. This is especially important for those providing vital services
that affect public safety and security. The IT teams of three of the four police forces in Wales—South Wales, Gwent (and its IT provider, the Shared Resource Service), and Dyfed-Powys (and its Joint Shared Service partner, the Carmarthenshire County Council)—faced
this challenge and wanted to work together to find a solution that would help them provide better policing on tighter budgets.
The forces have worked together on many occasions over the past decade. ”We all know each other and often get together to discuss how we can help solve each other's problems,” says Martin Smedley, Assistant Director of Information Services at South Wales
Police. “The Welsh government has a nice expression that explains this approach: ‘Wales exploiting its smallness,’ meaning, we can often do great things as a community because the country is small enough to manage it.”
“There are several operational services that lend themselves well to a joint approach,” says Smedley. “For example, instead of having three sets of armed response teams operating independently across the southern part of Wales, it is more effective and efficient
to have one team that is not constrained by geographic boundaries.”
Smedley wanted to ensure that the IT teams for three police forces can support this type of collaboration. ”The system for tracking where firearms officers are located and the mechanisms for training need to be accessible from multiple locations across Wales,”
Also, officers were requesting a single sign on so they could just log on once to access the IT resources they need from all three forces. “We needed to provide a way that any user in any force at any location could seamlessly access any application,” says
Andrew James, Systems Infrastructure Manager, South Wales Police.
To provide resources to officers, the IT teams from South Wales, Gwent, and Dyfed-Powys police forces engaged Microsoft Services Premier Support. South Wales Police has held a Microsoft Services Premier Support Agreement for a number of years, so James
and his team knew the value that Microsoft could bring to the project.
||Our Microsoft Services Dedicated Support Engineer is not only good at his job, but has been working so closely with the three forces that we feel like he is a part of our staff.
| Andrew James
Systems Infrastructure Manager, South Wales Police
The joint IT team sat down with a Microsoft Services Premier Field Engineer to devise how to maximize resources that were already available in the team’s existing infrastructure. The team discussed what could be achieved by joining Active Directory Domain Services
to the existing Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system environment to link all the applications that police officers and staff need to do their jobs properly. To implement this solution as efficiently as possible, the IT team engaged a Microsoft Services
Dedicated Support Engineer for 14 weeks.
“The police force works within a complex networking environment with strict security clearance guidelines,” says James. “We had excellent internal skills, headed by Architectural Lead Stuart Hitchings, and a combination of technical developers from each
force, but help from Microsoft would give us a fighting chance to meet our technical goals and business objectives within aggressive timescales.”
The Dedicated Support Engineer worked side-by-side with internal teams, providing support, guidance, and training as needed. “Rather than delivering an absolute set solution and leaving, we gained knowledge and built on the deliverable over a period of time,
which is exactly what we wanted,” says James.
“Our Microsoft Services Dedicated Support Engineer is not only good at his job, but has been working so closely with the three forces that we feel like he is a part of our staff,” says James.
The resulting solution supports a system where police offers and staff can immediately access the resources they need, regardless of which force’s domain the service is hosted on. Joint firearms teams are piloting before a go-live deployment to support their
administration and operational functions. Also, a South Wales and Gwent collaborative deployment is planned for the NICHE Records Management System to support intelligence, crime, and custody work.
By a taking a collaborative approach and using the resources and skills within Microsoft Services Premier Support, the police forces of South Wales, Gwent, and Dyfed-Powys were able to quickly create a bespoke solution within aggressive timelines that
addressed the needs of frontline officers.
Reduces staffing costs. By setting tight deadlines and increasing its workload for a short period of time, the joint IT team was able to meet its goals with support from the Dedicated Support Engineer while avoiding the need to hire additional
Provides better service to officers. Previously, officers were restricted by separate domain architectures. At best, officers and staff had to manage multiple sets of identities split across each force. At worst, they could not gain access
at all. Now officers and staff from each of the three forces can securely log on once and gain access to all authorized resources and be supported by any of the forces’ service desks.
Reduces duplication of IT resources. By sharing services, the police forces cut costs by reducing the number of servers needed across all three forces.
Increases tactical alignment between forces. “The three teams now work far more closely together,” says James. “We were all using similar technologies, but now we are more strategically aware of what each force is doing in terms of roadmaps,
compliance, and licensing. We all have a common purpose and from an IT perspective, we are far more aware of what we're capable of doing in the future.”
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