The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has just rolled out one of the largest mobile applications in Europe. About 1,500 patrol cars are now equipped with in-car data terminals that let uniformed staff have instant remote access to the Police National Computer and Computer Aided Despatch databases.
The new system also offers GPS in-car mapping, Quick Address for address checks, even a text messaging service. Being a frontline police service, the onus is to “deliver to the police the accurate information they need to do their job when and where they need it,” says its head of IT, Ailsa Beaton.

Beaton, who sits on the Met’s management board, runs a 2,500 strong team within the Met that develops and delivers ICT solutions for its 31,000 uniformed staff, 13,600 police staff, 400 traffic wardens and 2,000 Police Community Support Officers. In 2005 she was also named one of the British Computer Society’s IT Directors of the Year. Her directorate combines call handling, real-time covert and overt technology deployment to assist police investigations, evidential analysis, business change support and research into emerging technology’s potential usefulness.

"The onus is to “deliver to the police the accurate information they need to do their job when and where they need it"

Ailsa Beaton, head of IT, the Met

An ongoing target is delivering the force’s largest ever organisational change management programme, driven by Beaton, who joined the Met in 2000 from a stint as CIO of ICL. The Command, Control, Communication and Information (C3i) project will increase the resilience and capacity of the Met’s 999 service with a centralised call centre model and supporting technology and processes. The programme is responding to the projected increase in external contacts received by the Met (calls and emails), expected to reach 23 million a year by 2010.

In October 2005 Capgemini became the Met’s new outsourcing partner. Under the seven-year deal, worth around £350m over its lifetime, CapGemini, in collaboration with BT and Unisys, will supply information, communication and technology services including management and support of desktop IT networks, telephony and mobile devices, along with support for over 50 MPS software applications relating to crime reporting information, analysis and records storage.