The Met puts a new kind of Police Box out on the beat

A nice win for Box with the signing up of the London Metropolitan Police – aka The Met – to deliver a central database for evidence sharing among 44,000 law enforcement personnel.

The Met is committed to accelerating its adoption of digital policing practices, with a strategy document – One Met: Digital policing strategy 2017-2020 – stating:

The Digital Policing focus for the next three years is providing effective services for our 45,000 users and every member of the public, all within current financial constraints. Our aim is to give every customer the best possible technology experience, from our Police Officers working in stations and on the street, to members of the public who want to engage with us in new ways. It is our responsibility to deploy the right technology and to increase the speed and efficiency of delivery.

One pledge in the strategy involves better sharing of and collaboration around data and evidence:

We will share operational data with blue-light partners to improve the effectiveness of response and operating efficiency. We will enhance our integration platform to facilitate the efficient flow of data between Met systems.

This latest deal is a manifestation of that commitment. Rather than having to transfer photo or video content onto physical storage media in order to share with third parties, such as law courts or local authorities, the Met will now have a central database in the cloud. The One Met strategy document notes that the force faces an expanding and evolving set of forms of evidence that need to be managed and shared:

The Met increasingly exploits audio, video, still image and other complex content types (as well as data from digital maps and connected devices)…As the cloud service market matures, we expect to exploit the further commoditisation of services available to continue to drive down costs.

Cloud First

The force is committed to use of both public and private cloud technologies, as outlined in the strategy document:

We will adopt public cloud offerings as part of our ‘Cloud First’ principle. We will only maintain our own Met data centres for specialised services. Where we need specialised services, we will utilise virtual private cloud, and similar technologies, to provide consolidated, virtualised, commoditised infrastructure. We will, of course, only use public cloud where we are sure we can meet our obligations under the Data Protection Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (coming into force in 2018), and where we are satisfied that the very best in commercial security is applied.

Our cloud approach will allow us to only pay for the capacity and facilities that we use. We will also be able to rapidly move solutions if required (for example, where there is a commercial advantage), and ex our capacity up and down in response to key operational events. Our cloud approach will also allow us to more easily deliver applications via the Internet, opening up a range of possibilities for remote and mobile working.

Angus McCallum, CIO at the Met, explained:

It’s my job to deliver digital transformation at the Met and to equip our officers and staff with the best technology to enable a constantly-improving service and response to crime in London. By choosing Box, we’re transforming how we access content across the force, making us much more effective and efficient, which is absolutely critical when working on the frontline of law enforcement.

The deal is the largest European transaction for Box to date, according to CEO Aaron Levie, and one which he sees as an encouraging indicator of take-up in the public sector:

[This is] a pretty significant government agency now choosing Box as their standard for a lot of their digital collaboration and content that needs to move back and forth. So you can see that even some of the most stringent and security-conscious government agencies internationally are choosing Box as their content management platform, which obviously we think has pretty significant implications for the private sector throughout Europe and Australia, Japan and other major regions.

The Met is currently upgrading an IT estate of around 18,000 computers from Windows XP to Windows 8.1, with a move to Windows 10 then planned, as well as adopting Office365. That also plays to the relationship between the Met and Box as the latter is strengthening its ties and integration with Microsoft. Levie explains:

What we are seeing from customers is Box and Microsoft complement each other in a significant portion of the product area, so whether it’s our integration with Office 365, where you can edit documents very easily from Box directly [or] things like Azure Active Directory, that we use as an identity service provider for our customers.

We have overall seen a very-very healthy relationship with Microsoft, but that expanded in June, where we created a partnership, where our customers are going to be able to use Box with Azure for things like storage in international locations…I think, overall, you are going to see more and more complementary relationship and I think a much more integrated experience between Box and Microsoft. We will still compete on the edges, so that doesn’t go away clearly. But overall, we are very-very happy about how this relationship is continuing to come together.

My take

As a Doctor Who fan, the chance of getting a Police Box pun in the headline was more than enough to attract my interest in this win. That aside, this is a very strong use case examplar for Box, both internationally and in the public sector market.

Image credit – BBC


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