Belgian police move into the digital age nationwide, solve crimes faster with Microsoft 365

Today’s post was written by Wim Liekens, director of Police Information and ICT (CIO) at Belgian Federal Police.

As the son of a field police officer, I grew up with firsthand knowledge of how teamwork and tools go together to facilitate great police work. In my 25 years as a police officer and 17 years at the Belgian Federal Police, I’ve worked with our IT team to help create a safer society for the 11.4 million people who live in Belgium and a more secure workplace for our 55,000 employees. Since 2015, we have been building a modern, efficient work environment for police officers through digital tools that support collaboration. Today, more than ever, our police officers depend on secure, mobile access to good information and the ability to share that information to solve crimes.

We chose Microsoft 365 E3 to support our workplace modernization journey. A unified Microsoft cloud platform delivers strategic value for a police organization because it creates a sustainable, agile, and highly secure workplace culture. As we take a leadership role in our journey to the cloud, we’re using Microsoft 365 tools to improve collaboration—and help solve crimes in the process.

When we launched Yammer, police officers who hadn’t seen each other since graduating from the academy began to reconnect. Colleagues now use Yammer to share project-based data while investigators use it to pose questions about their ongoing cases. Police coworkers contribute their knowledge and expertise to answer those questions, which can help resolve investigations faster. It’s been a huge step forward to see how suddenly the whole police organization can help each other in real time.

We recently used the online meetings capabilities in Office 365 as an improvised “war room” to brainstorm how to solve a sudden emergency. The meeting occurred in the evening, but no one had to come into the office to participate. The operational chief managed the call, and people used the video and chat functions to make important decisions as quickly as possible.

We also collaborate more effectively because we use Microsoft Teams to better support units within the force. For example, our Belgian Dog Support Group has 35 dog teams that are dispatched to join local units when needed. This means that the teams lose their connection to the central canine support office. Today, we use Office 365 and Teams to create a digital central dog unit. The dog teams connect to this space from their mobile devices to share their experiences in the field. This builds important team comradery and provides a platform to increase our collective knowledge.

We plan to use Teams and other Microsoft 365 tools to bridge projects across the organization. We are digitizing our IT department and introducing a goal-oriented project management approach to our workplace culture. The collaborative Teams environment with unified communications will help us manage our daily business more efficiently.

To support this modern, cloud-based workplace, we need to protect our environment in a new way. The move to a solid, highly secure IT environment was a big factor in our decision to adopt Microsoft 365. We feel that Microsoft meets the complex security and compliance needs of a national police service. With Enterprise Mobility + Security, we have the tools to improve our security posture and keep us aligned with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements. Today, police officers carry smartphones and mobile devices loaded with proprietary police applications, and we use Microsoft Intune to manage 5,000 devices. We’ve deployed Azure Active Directory Premium Plan 1 for conditional multifactor authentication and access and identity management. In addition to our other cybersecurity protection measures, we also use Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks. We retain control of security and access to information through this combination of authentication, device management, and authorization services. Additionally, we’re speeding up our national deployment on Windows 10, so 55,000 employees will soon benefit from having Windows Defender Antivirus on their devices.

As the Belgian police rise to the challenge of digital transformation, we are confident that we have the tools to promote teamwork in a highly secure modern environment. And we’re in a better position to fulfill our responsibilities to citizens who expect us to solve crimes faster and our services to adapt to the digital world. The future of our force lies in the interconnection between police officers and the citizens they serve—we are ready.