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Impact

Ten-fold increase in the speed of pulling records in critical public safety situations

Real-time generation of metrics for senior management

Ability to perform detailed analytics to deploy officers more efficiently

Data Architecture

Data Lakehouse

Machine Learning Laboratory

Industry

Public Sector

Country

United Kingdom

The West Midlands Police (WMP) is the second-largest police force in the UK, with 11,500 employees covering an area of 348 square miles, and serving a population of almost 2.8 million. Headquartered in Birmingham, the force provides 24/7/365 patrolling and incident response, handling around 2,000 emergency calls daily.

The case for modernisation

Every police-public interaction generates data, and with so many citizens under its care, WMP recognised a need to improve how it managed its vast record repository. Siloed databases meant accessing records was time-consuming and hindered the ability of its force to respond swiftly to emergencies. For example, during a traffic stop, officers had to call WMP’s contact centre and wait in a queue to pull records on the motorist. With wait times often reaching 40 minutes, officers sometimes resorted to driving to a station to manually pull the information themselves.

To improve the efficiency of its records management and allow officers to access critical information in real-time, WMP made the decision to migrate its data to a unified cloud native platform. Since the concept of big data analytics and working in a cloud environment was new to UK policing, it was essential that WMP’s cloud platform was secure and compliant with the National Cyber Security Centre’s Cloud Security Principles. WMP chose Cloudera’s Data Platform (CDP) for Public Cloud to make its data easily accessible for officers and enable advanced analytics capabilities to modernise its data repository.

“Cloudera Data Platform has transformed our policing operations. It has enabled us to utilise the flexibility and scalability of the cloud, while providing the security and advanced data analytics capabilities we need,” commented Helen Davis, Assistant Director, IT & Digital at WMP.

Data-driven insights for frontline policing

WMP first partnered with Cloudera in 2019, streamlining the various data warehouses of WMP’s Intelligence Unit into a single accessible cloud architecture. After realising the power of CDP Public Cloud to unify and integrate large volumes of data into police operations, WMP decided to make the platform accessible to all 8,000 officers in the Force in 2020.

WMP saw staggering improvements in the speed that officers could access data. 30-minute wait times on the phone were reduced to just 30 seconds, as officers could pull records on their phones, transforming their ability to do their jobs.

CDP enables WMP to execute complex searches to provide data seamlessly, with queries relying on an involved entity resolution process to determine the correct identity of a subject. For example, golden record comprehension occurs based on factors present in the POLE (Person, Object, Location, Event) database. Entities are correlated, partial and fuzzy matches are scored for suitability, and a final view of the most relevant activities associated with an event are presented as results.

Cloudera’s detailed analytics capabilities with Cloudera Machine Learning (CML) have also unlocked insights to increase the efficiency of WMP’s policing. WMP now has a clearer picture of public safety needs which allows the correct level of resourcing to be assigned. For example, WMP can calculate the optimal number of officers to police a football match.

“Cloudera puts the data at our officers’ fingertips instantly, so they can spend less time searching for information and more time protecting citizens," Davis said.

Leading the way for other police forces

As well as boosting the efficiency of officers in the line of duty, Cloudera enables senior stakeholders to gain real-time insights into the force’s operations. For example, Qlik dashboards integrate into CDP to enable senior officers to visualise metrics on public order and incidents, so they can make faster and more informed management decisions. Previously, updates to the dashboards took as long as 15 minutes, but since adopting CDP, information is refreshed at 10-second intervals.

“Metrics play a key role in helping senior officers understand performance levels, and dashboards are widely used. Cloudera’s functionality gives us confidence in the accuracy of that data,” Davis said.

The mobile integration of the data platform has become indispensable for use in the field. This has led WMP to review how to classify the platform as a gold-level critical system. The platform has also received acclaim from the governing Home Office and attracted the attention of other forces in the UK that have received presentations on how they can also adopt the technology for their operations.

WMP plans to incorporate more data sets into the platform and continue leading the way in its use of detailed analytics in UK policing with support from Cloudera. The West Midlands Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has established an independent data ethics committee to ensure the use of machine learning and automation adheres to best practices and that data insights benefit the community the force serves. This committee is another policing first, and will further develop an innovation process that supports iterative improvement within appropriate guardrails.

Cloudera has transformed our policing operations. It has enabled us to utilise the flexibility and scalability of the cloud, while providing the security and advanced data analytics capabilities we need.

Helen Davis, Assistant Director of IT and Digital, West Midlands Police

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