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The ‘control room of the future’ is here to help police keep you safe

Victims of crime will receive better and quicker help from police after Microsoft and its partners unveiled the “control room of the future”.

The B-APCO Control Room Arena gives officers taking emergency calls more information on who is calling them as well as where the nearest units to respond are located.

The technology, which has been developed by Microsoft Services, mapping service Esri and communications firm Frequentis, could be used to help control room staff quickly identify if victims of domestic violence require immediate help or where the closest police cars are in relation to a serious traffic accident.

The control room is more efficient, cuts response times and can spot patterns in incidents.

Peter Prater, Key Account Manager at Frequentis and B-APCO Executive Committee Member, said: “The information available to the emergency services to influence incident response will grow more rapidly in the next five to 10 years than it probably has in the past 40 to 50 years. It is imperative that emergency services organisations can constantly evolve their control room solutions and workflow to accommodate this fact.

“[This is] a revolutionary path for the control room, reflecting new advances that will enable operational efficiencies, reduced response times and identify patterns. To date, these are not present in any emergency service control room.”

With policing budgets under pressure, chiefs and commissioners met in November to map out how law enforcement can provide better value for money for the taxpayer over the next 10 years. Part of that plan was to make “far better use of digital technology”.

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When a member of the public dials 999, contact management staff can quickly view information they already have on that person – such as if they are vulnerable, been a victim of harassment or had previous contact with officers for other issues – and where they are on a map. An incidents screen will show staff on the map where officers are in relation to the call, so they can respond quickly. The system will not give staff access to external sources of information on callers.

Simon Cottingham, Head of Public Safety at Esri UK, said: “Esri UK’s geographic information systems technology ensures that increasingly limited resources are directed to the most appropriate personnel, at the most appropriate locations, helping them to make the right decisions to deliver the best possible service for communities and citizens.”

An incidents screen will show control centre staff where police officers are in relation to an emergency call, so they can respond quickly

An incidents screen will show control centre staff where police officers are in relation to an emergency call, so they can respond quickly

A combination of Dynamics, Azure and Sharepoint will also allow greater collaboration between call centre staff and officers, improving knowledge of an incident and how best to respond in each circumstance.

Matt Bishop, UK Policing Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft Services, said: “We are empowering police forces to better engage and serve citizens, which is at the core of what Microsoft is about. Instead of thinking about cases and incidents, the citizen is now at the heart of every contact, and we can see we a world where this isn’t just a solution for police, but all agencies involved in serving the community.”