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Police ICT Company aims to extend its Knowledge Hub



Project team runs discovery exercise on what police forces and stakeholders need from its collaboration platform on ICT issues

The Police ICT Company (PICTO) is aiming to increase the scope and number of users of its Knowledge Hub , possibly taking it beyond its existing focus on ICT issues.

The organisation’s knowledge manager, Nora Davies, told UKAuthority that it is now in the closing stages of a discovery project to establish what key stakeholders need from the service.

It has attracted the support of IT industry association techUK, which has put out a call to suppliers to take part in the exercise.

Davies said the original purpose of the knowledge hub, which has been in operation for around two years, was to provide a space for police forces to share information on ICT matters between themselves and with registered suppliers. It has differed from the Police Online Knowledge Area (POLKA), run by the College of Policing, in having a focus on ICT while being open to more people and from any location – as opposed to police officers only and using their office networks.

“It has become clear that it is not quite doing all the jobs we want it to do,” she said. “We’ve come to a place where we need to invest some more money and know what we’re doing with it, so we’ve been running the discovery project which is to conclude at the end of this week.

“Our aim is to talk to various stakeholders across the policing and supplier landscape, through surveys and in person, to get an idea of what sort of information they share, how they do it at the moment, and how it can be improved. We’re asking if there’s a gap we can fill, if there’s a need for an online collaborative tool that is about more than sharing information, and what kind of security levels we need to provide.”

Recommendations to come

She said there has been a good level of response and that the team hopes to come up with some recommendations for PICTO, hopefully within the next few weeks, on the nature of any changes. These could include a function of promoting standards for police ICT.

“We don’t want to draw any conclusions yet, but one thing that has come back is that there would be a clear need for technical standards for suppliers and that we would be the right people to publish them,” Davies said.

“There could also be a need for a multi-tiered information system in which police could share programme information, procurement information, ongoing project information, and using it to share with other agencies such as fire and rescue, the NHS and in some cases suppliers.”

She added that suppliers have shown they are keen to engage but that the existing methods are not the most effective.

There is also a possibility that the Knowledge Hub could be used for sharing information on other aspects of policing, making it available to a wider community than the POLKA system, but this will be determined by the feedback from stakeholders.

Image by Southbanksteve, CC BY 2.0 through Wikimedia

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