An Garda Siochana Policing Plan, Systems Architecture, ICT

 Systems Architecture

An Garda Siochana Policing Plan, Systems Architecture, White Paper (1) by Vincent McKenna BSSc, PG Dip, MSc

See, Also:

Policing in the Cloud, An Garda Siochana, White Paper (2) by Vincent McKenna BSSc, PG Dip, MSc

Table of Contents

  1. 1.    Abstract
  2. 2.    Introduction
  3. 3.    Fig. 1 Strategic and Operational Objectives 2012
  4. 4.    Key themes/Strategic and Operational Objectives
  5. 5.    Fig. 2 Organisational Structure
  6. 6.    Culture of Change
  7. 7.    IT and Business Objectives
  8. 8.    Communication
  9. 9.    E-mail

10. Three key IT Operational Systems

11. Revenue Streams

12. Conclusions

13. Bibliography/References

Abstract

This White Paper identifies the strategic and operational objectives of An Garda Siochana. It describes how IT systems, enable An Garda Siochana to meet these objectives. And it further describes specific IT systems with an overview of functionality, architecture used and highlights the objectives these IT systems support. The IT systems included are back office applications, front office applications and infrastructure.

To develop, deliver and maintain highly efficient and innovative ICT services that support excellent policing. An Garda Siochana ICT Strategic Plan 2010-2012.

Introduction

Strategic and Operational Objectives

An Garda Siochana is the national police service of the Republic of Ireland and has approximately 14000 members ranging in rank from ordinary Garda to Garda Commissioner. In the 2012 An Garda Siochana Policing Plan, the Garda Commissioner set out the key strategic and operational objectives of An Garda Siochana for 2012.

This White Paper identifies the strategic and operational objectives of An Garda Siochana. It describes how IT systems enable and support An Garda Siochana to meet these objectives. And it further describes specific IT systems with an overview of functionality, architecture used and highlights the objectives these IT systems support. The IT systems included are back office applications, front office applications and infrastructure.

These strategic and business objectives are supported by an ICT Strategic Plan to develop, deliver and maintain highly efficient and innovative ICT services that support excellent policing (An Garda Siochana ICT Strategic Plan 2010-2012). An Garda Siochana have a number of business partners including Accenture, Eircom, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, o2, Oracle, Tetra Ireland, Vodafone and so forth.

These strategic and operational objectives are broken down as follows:

 

Key Actions

This will be achieved by

Performance Indicators

Process owner

Outcome

National Security

Identify and analysis the threat

Tactical and Strategic Intelligence Assessments

National security maintained

Assistant Commissioner Crime and Security

A secure nation

Confronting Crime

Tackle property crime

Targeting crime hotspots

Reduced property crime

Regional Assistant Commissioners

Reduced crime and fear of crime

Effective Roads Policing

Continued reduction in road accidents

High visibility strategy

Continued downward trend in road deaths and injuries

Assistant Commissioner traffic

Safer roads reduced death and injury

Ensuring a Peaceful Community

Reduce public disorder

Proactive and innovative responses

Public disorder and criminal damage reduced

Regional Assistant Commissioner

Safer/peaceful local communities

 Fig 1. This table has been created by this author (2012) as a simple representation of An Garda Siochana’s Strategic and Operational Objectives for 2012. 

 The strategic and operational objectives set out above were originally included in the 2010-2012 Policing Plan and have been restated in the 2012 Policing Plan in order to restate those objectives under the leadership of the newly appointed Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan.

The Key Themes/Strategic Objectives:

  1. 1.    National Security
  2. 2.    Confronting crime
  3. 3.    Effective Roads policing
  4. 4.    Ensuring a peaceful community

An Garda Siochana organisational and unit structure:

    Commissioner      
Assistant Commissioners Chief Superintendents Superintendents Inspectors Sergeants Garda
Special Detective Unit Fraud UnitCAB Sexual Assault Unit Traffic Corp IT unit Crime scene unit
 Fig 2. This table has been created by this author (2012) as a simple representation of An Garda Siochana’s command and unit structure.

The strategic and operational objectives of An Garda Siochana remain the core duty of the Garda Commissioner; however, the Commissioner must also take into consideration the priorities of the Minister for Justice in the Program for Government. Faisal Hoque, founder and chair of the BTM Institute, cites three key lessons from his group’s study of business-IT convergence:

1. Top corporate executives should realise the financial impact that a unified business technology organization can have. “That is the most important thing,” Hoque says.

2. Being a converged business technology company does require a different level of management thinking. “You cannot just say, ‘Let’s manage IT as a business,’” he says. “You cannot separate IT from the business. [Business technology] has to be institutionalised.”

3. You have to be able to measure how these business technology management capabilities are guiding organizational maturity and how that connects back to the financial results.[1]

It is clear from the Policing Plan 2012 and the ICT Strategic Plan 2010-2012, that An Garda Siochana’s strategic and operational objectives are being supported on a daily basis by a network of ICT systems. 

Culture of Change

Whatever the scale of any project within an organisation, there are a myriad of perspectives to be considered, long before planning, during planning and in parallel with implementation, the complexity of sociological paradigms within an organisation must be considered in order to comprehend the impact of such change (Burrell and Morgan, 1979).

Horch, J.W. (1996) says that an SQS requires a change in the culture of the organisation with respect to quality. The key component of any culture change is commitment (p.192).

An Garda Siochana rank and file members, have not always welcomed ICT with open arms, there has been constant resistance by significant numbers of Gardai to work new ICT systems and this is worth noting. When the PULSE system was introduced it could not operate effectively for long periods as Gardai refused to input information to it, in 2012 the Garda Inspectorate criticised Gardai for failing to engage with standard protocols when failing to input all reported crimes.

IT and Business Objectives

The core strategic and operational objectives of An Garda Siochana are supported by using a range of IT systems and these IT systems will now be addressed.

The key IT system and IT infrastructure that is supporting An Garda Siochana in achieving their strategic and operational objectives is the PULSE computer system (Police Using Leading Systems Effectively) which is built using VB6 technology. The PULSE computer system was introduced to An Garda Siochana in 1999 at a cost of tens of millions of Euro to the tax payer, its core software has been upgraded on a number of occasions and in the years 2001-2006 its maintenance and up grading cost sixty-one million Euro. The PULSE system was initially built on a three tier systems architecture including location server, protocol and interface. However, the PULSE system would now be better described as an ‘n’ systems architecture as it has been integrated with a number of internal and external ICT systems.

The PULSE system has revolutionised policing in Ireland. Prior to the introduction of the PULSE system in 1999, An Garda Siochana operated in an information vacuum. Prior to the introduction of the PULSE computer system, very poor, mainly manual, disjointed systems could not deal with inquiries from front-line officers who were manning check-points, dealing with emergencies, checking previous convictions of suspects, and vetting persons for certain types of employment.

Employing the PULSE computer system, frontline officers can now quickly check if a suspect has an outstanding warrant, has previous convictions for drunk driving/no insurance, is on a terrorist/drug dealer or sex offender database. All of which leads to a greater sense of community safety. It should be noted that 282 of the 703 Garda stations do not have networked access to the PULSE system, but can communicate with networked stations by secure digital radio; this is addressed later in this paper.

The PULSE computer system is a very expensive software system built on an ‘n’ tier system architecture, while the PULSE system has a basic three tier system, it is also linked to the Courts Service, Car Registration Office, Revenue, Customs and so forth.

With budgetary constraints the Garda Commissioner has key financial constraints to meet and again the PULSE computer system with its centralised database allows for comprehensive statistical and associational analysis to be employed in order to identify trends and clusters in criminal activity, which in turn allows for the targeting and prioritising of personnel and resources to achieve best practice in cost effective policing, community safety and crime prevention.

It is also worth noting that the PULSE computer system has had a number significant security and operational problems, however, the security issues have mainly come from Garda Officers abusing their access to the PULSE system for criminal activity or monetary gain, this activity has ranged from Gardai providing insurance companies with personal details of persons involved in car accidents, vetting potential tenants for landlords and directly providing information to criminal gangs. From an operational perspective the Association of Garda Sergeants in Ireland and Garda Representative Association criticised the PULSE system in 2010 for causing backlogs in bringing cases to court.[2] In 2012 the Garda Inspectorate criticised ordinary Garda officers for failing to input to the PULSE system with all case files relating to certain types of crime.

 Communication

Communication is the core tool in the fight against crime and for many years An Garda Siochana operated with poor communications systems, in rural areas Gardai were effectively cut-off from their command centre if they happened to be driving through a valley or did not have access to the public telephone network. In 2012 the Gardai have a National Digital Radio Service which allows frontline Gardai to communicate with their command centre from any location in Ireland, this system allows for easy information exchange between frontline Gardai and their command centre. Previously Gardai operating in rural or urban areas had to contact their local command centre, and the local command centre would have to contact GHQ for qualifying information or data. The new digital system cuts out the middleman, with front-line officers having direct access to all Garda databases, that access is achieved through individual operating codes/passwords to protect security and database integrity.

This new Digital Radio Service also provides real time access to mobile phone data, photographs of suspects or wanted persons, and the Digital Radio Service provides a secure means of communication with the PSNI. This secure line with the PSNI is helping achieve objectives relating to national security particularly in relation to organised crime and the threat from ‘dissident’ groups.

E-mail

It is interesting to note that one of the easiest and cheapest means of front office IT communication has not been mastered by An Garda Siochana. In Dail Eireann on the 4th of April 2006, the then Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell said in reply to a parliamentary question about Garda e-mail:

“E-mail facilities are currently available to all Gardai from the rank of Superintendent and above and this allows for e-mail correspondence with members of the public where appropriate………I am advised by the Garda authorities that the Garda Siochana information and communication technology strategy, which is currently being finalised, has identified a requirement for an enterprise-wide e-mail system within the Garda Siochana”.[3]

One would have assumed that following on from these public pronouncements from the then Minister for Justice in 2006, that in 2012 An Garda Siochana would be proficient in e-mail communication. However, on the 12th of February 2012, the Minister for Justice Mr Alan Shatter told the Dail that of the 703 Garda Stations in operation 282 stations were without access to e-mail and were not networked locations. This means that 421 Garda stations are networked and have unique e-mail access to communicate internally and externally. The 282 Garda stations that are not networked must communicate with the networked stations by secure radio as stated above.

The Department of Justice has publicly stated that a pilot scheme is to be introduced to provide the public with e-mail access to local Garda stations; one assumes that this pilot project will be restricted to those networked stations, the Department of Justice further states that it is represented on various Garda ICT Programme and Project Boards as part of the overall governance arrangements in place for the ICT Programme within An Garda Siochana.[4]

Three Key IT Operational Systems

The new Automated Number Plate Recognition System (ANPR), The Garda Finger Print System (PRINTRAK) and the Automated Ballistics Identification System (ABIS) are all helping with the strategic and operational objectives of An Garda Siochana by allowing real time Number Plate checks on vehicles coming to the attention of frontline officers, finger printing of suspects in real time situations using touch pad technology and faster identification of weapons used in shooting incidents.

These technologies are in the first two cases linked directly to the Garda Digital Radio Service, with the ballistics software allowing speedy feedback to crime scene investigators, as in many instances the same weapons can be used in multiple shootings and the related gangs can be identified by ballistic reports. This simply means that Gardai can quickly focus their investigation.

The ANPR number plate system is in Gardai Traffic Corp vehicles and uses optical character recognition technology to automatically read vehicle registration plates; the technology can read up to six number plates per second at up to speeds of 180KM/h. The ANPR also detects speeding and other associated activities and these are recorded using video. The system/plate check can run in the background as Gardai deal with other issues such as dangerous driving. The system can identify the vehicle as being stolen, without tax or linked with terrorists or other organised crime. This system supports the Garda objectives of fighting organised and serious crime, improving road/community safety.[5]

The finger print system is a PRINTRAK Biometric Information three-tier system that went live in 2007 replaced the automated system (AFIS). The new system takes finger prints without ink and sends those prints electronically. The new system also has an interface with electronic submission for fingerprints from the office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner. The system will also be integrated with the PULSE system as well as being integrated with Interpol, Europol and the PSNI, IT systems. This system is playing a major part in the investigations of crimes.[6]

The ballistics system can quickly identify the type of weapon from which the bullet was fired or if the weapon was previously used in another incident, the system can generate a 3-D image of the bullet, even where fragments are recovered and this quickly helps establish the weapon used, all of the information is stored on a secure database and can be accessed via the PULSE computer system.

Revenue Streams

An Garda Siochana have also introduced a Fixed Charge Processing System, this bespoke IT development is helping An Garda Siochana with a more effective means of collecting revenues raised from on-the-spot fines. An Garda Siochana are driven by policing strategy and objectives, but are also keenly aware of their budgetary objectives and must adopt to various business modules to ensure that their operation is cost effective and offering value for money to the tax payer. Some of these back office financial applications are set out below.

An Garda Siochan had a strategic and operational objective of reducing road fatalities and accidents, this was to be achieved by changing motorist habits such as speeding and not wearing seat belts, these objectives were to be meet by introducing a Fixed Charge Processing System (FCPS). The FCPS was to be integrated with the PULSE system as well as integrate with other state agencies, the Department of Environment for placing penalty points, the Courts service for summonses, and An Post for payment handling. Fujitsu was the company chosen to deliver the FCPS system. The technical aspect of the FCPS is based on Microsoft’s.net, where many of its unique features are utilised including Net Remoting, Load Balancing and ADO.net and the backend database is Oracle 9i which is run on the Solaris platform. Security for the FCPS is provided by the same security system as the PULSE system, namely, Kerberos.

The FCPS IT system supports the strategic and operational objectives of An Garda Siochana by:

• Achieving the goals set out in the Government Road Safety Strategy – “Reduce Road Fatalities and Accidents”.

• Achieving the goals pursued by An Garda Síochána to increase, their capacity to process higher volumes of fixed charge offences fines without deploying more resources.

• Increase the automation of administration processes thereby reducing Gardaí time spent on administration.

• Increase processing capacity to meet the anticipated increase in volume of fixed charge penalties as a result of increased enforcement levels.

In line with this business model, a private company has been contracted to implement a national speed camera operation which is expected to save the tax payer several million per annum and allows the Garda Commissioner to redeploy Gardai to other areas of priority as highlighted in the strategic plan.

Conclusion

This White Paper has identified the strategic and operational objectives of An Garda Siochana. It has described how IT systems enable and support An Garda Siochana to meet those objectives. And it has further described specific IT systems with an overview of functionality, architecture used and highlights the objectives these IT systems support. It has been shown that these strategic and business objectives are supported by an ICT Strategic Plan to develop, deliver and maintain highly efficient and innovative ICT services that support excellent policing (An Garda Siochana ICT Strategic Plan 2010-2012).

This White Paper has also shown that cultural change is central to the implementation of an ICT strategy, An Garda Siochana has been no different to any other organisation when it has come to resistance to change and cultural firewalls, however, fresh thinking, clear leadership and training, have helped move An Garda Siochana from the traditional view of keystone cops to interface cyber cops. The strategic and operational objectives of An Garda Siochana are being met on a daily basis by the integration of ICT systems into traditional policing methods, none of this could be achieved without the commitment of ordinary rank and file Gardai.

This assignment has shown how communication is at the core of modern policing and how a national digital radio system has revolutionised policing in Ireland. ICT systems such as PULSE which began life as a three tier systems architecture has evolved to become an ‘n’ systems architecture as its tentacles reach out into an ocean of national and international cybercrime databases and infrastructure. Several key operational ICT systems have been introduced and explained in this assignment in order to explain how IT is supporting the strategic and operational objectives of An Garda Siochana.

It has been shown how revenue streams have been more effectively and efficiently addressed by way of technologies such as the Fixed Charge Processing System and privatisation of speed cameras, all of which support An Garda Siochana’s strategic and operational objectives of becoming cost effective and business conscious, particularly in what are tight budgetary constraints. It is clear from the evidence presented in this assignment that IT systems are supporting An Garda Siochana to meet their strategic and operational objectives, however, it has also been shown that cultural change, clear leadership, business orientation, training and staff commitment are core ingredients of successful ICT implementation.

Bibliography/References

Favaro, J., 2010, Renewing the Software Project Management Lifecycle, Informatica E Tecnologia Del Software Spa, IEEE Software.

Horch,J.W. 1996, Practical Guide to Software Project Management, Artech House Inc. Norwood, MA 02062.

Lister, A.M. and Eager, R.D. 1993, Fundamentals of Operating Systems, Fifth Edition, Macmillan Press Ltd. London.

McKeown, P.G. 2004, Learning to program with Visual Basic.net, Wiley & Sons, University of Georgia, USA.

IT doesn’t make a difference to business

Nicholas Carr (Harvard Business School)

http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/3520.html

IT does make a difference to business

Faisal Hoque (BTM Institute)

http://www.cio.com/article/125950/Study_Provides_Evidence_That_Technology_Execution_Leads_to_Business_Performance/1

An Garda Siochana, Policing Plan 2010-2012, Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin.

An Garda Siochana, ICT Strategic Plan 2010-2012, Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin.

An Garda Siochana, Policing Plan 2012, Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin.

Google.images.com

www.siliconrepublic.com

http://www.garda.ie/controller.aspx?page=106

http://www.garda.ie/controller.aspx?page=47

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2006/04/04/00288.asp

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/JELR/pages/garda_IT_and_telecom

[1]http://www.cio.com/article/125950/Study_Provides_Evidence_That_Technology_Execution_Leads_to_Business_Performance/1

[2] www.siliconrepublic.com

[3] http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2006/04/04/00288.asp

[4] http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/JELR/pages/garda_IT_and_telecoms

[5] http://www.garda.ie/controller.aspx?page=106

[6] http://www.garda.ie/controller.aspx?page=47