Joint Solutions

When Technology Helps the Police Keep the City Safe

Every hour of every day, police are patrolling in the Belgian city of Antwerp. To get all crucial data from multiple search sources to the intervention team quickly, Antwerp Police Department developed its own platform and app FOCUS. Because police services are on standby 24/7, 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 services of VMware and partner HPE.

Technology brings police more visibility on the streets

The mission of Antwerp Police Department is simple: creating a safe city environment and protecting the freedom of its citizens. But, it is not that easy in the large area that needs to be covered, 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, a ‘mobile office’ project was launched. This involved setting up the police vehicles as a digital workplace where the officers could carry out their paperwork: drawing up official reports, looking up data, etc. However, the main challenge during an intervention is to provide all the necessary information at the time of the call to the police team that is driving to the intervention. So, when they arrive at the scene, the police officers are 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 was 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.

“The HPE systems ensure that the Focus platform can upscale at any time. Users know that they can get the data they need quickly and work in a stable IT environment. And with less complexity for the IT team,” says Bert Smet, Solution Architect and Digital Workplace Practice Lead at HPE Belgium.

With an eye on security and 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. By turning the police vans into a mobile workplace, the desktop virtualization of the endpoint devices in the police 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.

Better management and faster on the spot

The result is a strong FOCUS platform, 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 no longer need to click 100 times or screw 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.

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