Unlocking the Next Generation of Control Rooms: A Tech-Enabled Roadmap for Change To celebrate International Control Room Week, we wanted to share our insights on the next generation of Police Control Rooms, and our thoughts on what the roadmap for the future holds
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Unlocking the next generation of Control Rooms: a tech-enabled roadmap for change

Bella Copland, Dominic Meehan
Image of a blue light on top of a police car

International Control Room Week

To celebrate International Control Room Week, we wanted to share our insights on the next generation of Police Control Rooms, and our thoughts on what the roadmap for the future holds. At Kin + Carta, we’ve teamed up with Microsoft to assess Police Control Rooms across the country via our Citizen-Centric Maturity Assessment, and create tech-enabled roadmaps that enable Forces to move forward on their transformation journeys. Through this work we’ve unearthed first-hand insights into the challenges facing Control Rooms, with these insights & stats highlighted below, and identified tangible ways in which Forces can tackle them, from large-scale transformation to what we at Kin + Carta call “thin slices” of change.

Our insights reaffirm that it’s a blend of people, processes, data, and technology that is key to unlocking the next generation of Control Room transformation. Whilst technology and data are essential enablers, it is crucial to have the right people and processes on board to really maximise their impact. 

Addressing Challenges Head-On 

Regional Police Forces in the UK have shown impressive resilience in managing increasing demand from their communities. However, recruitment challenges due to economic shifts resulting from the pandemic, continued budget scrutiny, and the increasing complexity of demand have all emphasised the need for a comprehensive transformation strategy that truly addresses the root causes of challenges. 

Our research found that, amongst the Forces assessed, 50% of survey respondents had been with their respective Force for over five years. Whilst this stat may feel positive, it does signal that a large majority of lived experience and knowledge is retained in only half of the workforce. This signals the importance of prioritising employee experience and implementing the right tools and systems that make it easier for new recruits to get up to speed. 

Our research also found that only 12% of survey respondents felt that their leadership was focussed on the community and its outcomes, and lacked a clear strategy to deliver on the needs of the public. Forces are struggling to balance strategic, regulatory, operational and team needs alongside delivering on community needs and outcomes. Further, over 50% of staff surveyed felt that their culture was lacking in citizen-focussed outcomes and that this limited their ability to make a difference in their community.

Control Rooms are in the difficult position of having to adapt to meet both present, but also oncoming challenges, whilst also having to juggle the day to day requirements of running an emergency service.

Leveraging Technology for a Brighter Future

To adapt to the changing landscape and prepare for the future, the use of technology is crucial. Forces have done all they can to manage with what they have, but the reality is that the best tool left for tackling existing and future challenges is tech.

Only 15% of staff surveyed thought their digital tools were tailored to organisational needs and a citizen-centric approach, with no bottlenecks or inefficiencies created due to digital infrastructure. Inversely, more than 50% of respondents felt that there was inconsistency between teams in terms of which systems are used for different purposes, leading to integration and data sharing issues.

Here are three practical ways technology can improve Control Rooms:

Automated Data Handling

It may seem basic, but in many Forces, the rekeying of data from one platform into another can take up hours of capacity, reducing the time available to support incoming demand. This is in part due to legacy applications that struggle to integrate in the back end (for example a crime recording and a call recording system not being able to take information and data from each other easily). One possible solution for this is Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology, which gives an easy way to reduce manual entry without the need to touch fragile or legacy system backends. This decreases operational issues, reduces errors, and improves efficiency. Microsoft’s AI Builder and Power Automate are both tools which can be implemented to alleviate these issues for Forces.

Only 14% of staff surveyed felt that the trust of the community they served was a priority within their Control Room. This was due to a variety of competing priorities, as well as general processes and administrative activities getting in the way.

Virtual Assistants

Force Control Rooms are often inundated with inappropriate demands that would be better supported by health services, social services, or local authorities–after all, it can be difficult for communities to know where to go. A virtual assistant has the ability to quickly manage incoming requests, and more effectively signpost demand to the right support. This not only evens out operations, but also gives Control Room teams more time, leading to improved response times. A useful tool here is Microsoft’s Power Virtual Agent (PVA), which has the ability to create and deploy AI ‘bots’, via a single interface, that can manage demand from any channel based on Force designed processes, policies and communications. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an Employee Assistant

There are a number of applications of AI within Control Rooms, but one that we get particularly excited about is AI’s ability to serve best practice, knowledge, and even recommendations to a Contact Officer (or Call Agent) in real-time as they engage with a citizen, enabling faster and more effective decision-making. This can be especially valuable for a newer or ”‘still-learning” member of staff. The impact this technology can have on driving a more consistent service for communities, whilst supporting staff to feel more confident in their decision-making, is incredible, driving positive outcomes both internally and externally. Microsoft’s Copilot solution, within Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, enables exactly this.

Of the staff surveyed, 83% felt that data gathering was done effectively within their Force, via an organisation-wide approach focussed on community outcomes. The challenge however is that only 27% of respondents felt that the gathered data was used effectively to assess current performance or to inform future decision-making.

Gradual Progress for Lasting Change

Embracing transformation doesn't require a complete and sudden overhaul. Police Forces can start by trying out innovations in a specific area, such as using virtual assistants for a particular type of request in one channel. Showing the success of these initiatives can then encourage broader transformation, demonstrating the benefits to teams and staff while making the transition more manageable.

If you're interested in starting or speeding up your Control Room's transformation journey, we're here to help. Contact us today to explore how Kin + Carta's tech-driven expertise and plans can guide your regional Police Force toward a more efficient Control Room. Together, we can usher in the next phase of transformation and enhance public safety in our communities.


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