The role of the Metropolitan Police Service's Directorate of Information (DoI) is to supply the technology and communications infrastructure to the constabulary. Working with all areas of the Met, it provides advice, guidance and support to develop ICT management solutions for more effective and efficient policing, and for the use and strategic direction of ICT within the Met.

The scope of the high profile, security critical projects the DoI is engaged includes real-time operational support for counter-terrorism activities, maintaining crime reporting information and analysis software which aid crime detection improving information quality, and utilising new technology to provide enhanced communications.

Following the completion of the Command, Control, Communication and Information (C3i) project in 2007, director of information, Ailsa Beaton, and deputy director Patrick Phillips have turned their attention to planning for the integration of new technology on the force and beyond over the next seven years.

Having modernised and centralised communications between officers, other forces and the public through C3i, the directorate's main themes in its 2009-2016 Strategic Plan are to improve policing information, develop the ICT platform, deliver planned programmes and services, and improve overall efficiency and effectiveness. However it already admits that targets will have to be met in the face of decreasing funding between now and 2016.

One key milestone in the next seven years will be the 2012 Olympic Games. With security a prime concern, analysts have suggested that major IT projects may have to be locked down as early as the end of 2010 to prevent disruption. To smooth the Olympics planning process, the Met signed a framework agreement worth up to £214m with 18 IT services and consultancy firms including Accenture, Fujitsu, Capgemini, Unisys, BT and Logica.

The London police force also has a seven-year contract signed in June last year with a Capgemini-led consortium, covering desktop IT networks, telephony and mobile devices.

Online crime is also a concern, with the Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) receiving some £3.9m of funding from the Met as well as £3.5m from the Home Office in order to tackle the theft and subsequent fraudulent use of data. There has been some scepticism about the low funding of the programme and its ability to work with business, but the PCeU chalked up an early success in June 2009, working with the FBI to crack an international fraud ring that used stolen credit cards to download music from Amazon and iTunes.

Other projects in the pipeline includes a unified identity and access management programme which plans to roll out 80,000 smartcards and around 140,000 readers to control access to the force's buildings and IT systems. The readers will be integrated into the DoI's existing technology, being Microsoft Windows XP and Vista compatible, and the 80,000 cards will be based on the JavaCard 2.2 standard - an open system developed by Sun Microsystems.

The Met Police also extensively uses SAP enterprise resource planning software, and is well ahead in its planning for the 2010 deadline for compliance with the National Policing Improvement Agency's Management of Police Information (MoPI) guidelines for sharing information between constabularies and supporting a National Police Database. The MoPI Programme Group is one of eight separate business groups within the DoI.

The importance of technology to the work of the force is underlined by Beaton's appointment to the Metropolitan Police Service's management board - the first CIO to gain a place at the Met's top table.