Every hour of every day, police are patrolling in the Belgian city of Antwerp. But getting all crucial data from multiple search sources to the intervention team quickly during an intervention, is a challenge. Therefore, Antwerp Police Department developed its own platform and app FOCUS. It need to work 24/7. This means that the underlying infrastructure of this platform must also be able to guarantee stability, speed and scalability. To establish this, Antwerp Police Department relies on the solutions of VMware and partner HPE.
Technology brings police more visible on the street
The mission of Antwerp Police Department is simple: creating a safe city environment and protecting the freedom of its citizens. But is not that easy in the large area that needs to be covered. Especially with the port of Antwerp – the second largest in Europe – as a significant part. In the vision of the Antwerp Police Department, technology plays an important role to accomplish the mission.
A few years ago, the city council decided that the police had to be more visible on the streets. To achieve this, the team launched a ‘mobile office’ project. This involved setting up the police vehicles as a digital workplace where the officers could carry out their paperwork. But the main challenge during an intervention is to provide all the necessary information at the time of the call to the team that is driving to the intervention. So, when they arrive at the scene, officers are now better informed and better able to handle the incident correctly.
New IT infrastructure
In order to achieve this, the ICT department of Antwerp Police Department developed – in addition to the VDI solution for the mobile office – a new digital platform (with accompanying app): FOCUS. This app combines the 20 to 40 search sources and databases of various police departments, other city services and emergency services. Of course, this requires an up-to-date IT infrastructure. For this purpose, Antwerp Police Department called on the services of HPE and VMware. “Important to us were scalability and continuous availability. Criminals don’t stand still, so our IT has to be available 24/7,” says Stijn Haemhouts deputy director ICT at Antwerp Police Department.
With an eye on security with the sensitivity of the data on top of mind, Antwerp Police Department called for the hardware on the HPE Synergy solution. The second part of the solution was the software. To turn the police vans into a mobile workplace, the desktop virtualization of the endpoint devices in de cars was realized with VMware Horizon. For the software part in the new infrastructure of the backend, Antwerp Police Department uses VMware vRealize Operations and VMware vRealize Automation.
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Better management and faster on the spot
The result is a strong FOCUS platform. It’s running on HPE Synergy frames in combination with VMware vSAN storage, that quickly delivers the necessary info to the intervention teams. “The main technological advantages of the architecture are that the system is highly scalable and can be deployed immediately. For my team the management of the system is also simplified. We do no longer must click 100 times or put servers into racks”, says Stijn Haemhouts. But the main advantage for the community is the faster response. “Thanks to the FOCUS platform on the new infrastructure, our response times have improved dramatically. For a high priority incident, it is now just under three minutes. Whereas before it was 8 to 10 minutes”, concludes Stijn.