View from the top: telephony in the police force

Over the last few years, government spending has been heavily tightened, with some departments facing more cuts than others. According to figures from the UK Statistics Authority, the police force has faced a £160m real-terms funding cut in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 budgets. Such financial pressure is likely to last well into the coming years as the police force faces the dual challenge of dealing with less funding and bigger demands.

To keep up the same level of frontline service quality, it’s crucial to see what efficiency gains can be made in terms of back room physical infrastructure. It has been over 50 years since the 1962 Royal Commission on Policing came into effect, which saw the introduction of new technology. Telecommunications tech has dramatically changed since then, and though the force has been quick to adopt other forms of technology, telephony has often been overlooked.

Smart tech such as SIP trunking can be the telecom solution that many police departments need in order to deliver quality service while keeping to a limited budget. Many officers will admit that traditional police force IT systems often involve hundreds of applications, all integrated at varying levels. SIP trunking has the benefit of bringing together mobile, traditional landline and web-based communications, to help deliver an enhanced service to the public, alongside improved productivity both in the station and on the streets.

Upping police productivity by equipping them with the right tools can be a sustainable solution moving forward. With this being said, in what ways can SIP trunking benefit the police force?

For many IT Directors within the public sector, their telecoms journey from A to B can be can be endlessly disrupted by external factors. The job of finding a solution to meet their IT needs is becoming harder and harder.

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Tech success in the public sector

Supports economies of scale

Police departments from neighbouring counties can work together to create efficiency gains. Gamma helped Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies collaborate and streamline their telecoms, as part of a wider amalgamation of their ancillary services. Whereas, with a traditional telephone system based on ISDN and local PBXs, the two constabularies were paying for separate lines and systems. With shared SIP trunking, one single network was able to support them all.

Creates cost savings

SIP trunking can eliminate the need to pay for unused ISDN lines. According to Andrew Clark of the Norfolk and Suffolk constabulary, Gamma’s SIP trunking has helped them achieve substantial savings, especially on recurring costs, as well as eliminate some extra payments entirely. In addition, call costs and line rentals are also lower than the equivalent traditional ISDN.

Boosts network reliability

SIP allows police forces to deliver a functional, central telephony operation that is both reliable and secure. In the event of a large-scale emergency, traditional phone lines may jam as many people attempt to call at once. With SIP trunking, additional capacity can be added at short notice to cope with extra demand, and with smart inbound call control features, SIP can help ensure every call can be answered quickly and efficiently – whatever the situation.

Removes management burden

Managing fragmented, complex IT systems can put a considerable burden on both IT managers and police staff. SIP trunking allows IT managers to have better control over how and where calls are delivered, via an easy to use web portal, with less reliance on a service provider.

Adds to quality of service

SIP trunking can also play a part in transforming the police force to become more citizen focused. Making it simple for citizens to contact the correct department, with the option to choose the communications method that is best for them – chat, phone, or even video – can go a long way to enhance their service experience.

The police department must make sure it’s spending money on sustainable tech solutions, and not investing in outdated systems. The key is to find effective and flexible long term solutions. A cloud-hosted approach to telephony not only saves money, but also future-proofs infrastructure for the years to come. At the same time, it boosts productivity for all officers and makes for a more reliable force.

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28 March 2016 | Sam Winterbottom

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The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.