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EXCLUSIVE – Enhancing criminal intelligence and law enforcement through collaborative, innovative ICT

EXCLUSIVE Enhancing criminal intelligence and law enforcement through collaborative

OpenGov interviews Narelle Lovett, a/g National Manager, ICT Future Capabilities to understand ongoing digital transformation at the newly established Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

How is your department embracing digital transformation?

The newly established Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) brings together the capabilities of the former Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and CrimTrac, to provide police agencies with national information sharing services.

The intelligence analysis of the former ACC, combined with the ICT and capabilities of CrimTrac, enables the ACIC to connect police and law enforcement to the essential policing knowledge and information they need to make Australia safer.

ICT is one of the ACIC’s core capabilities and is central to the delivery of innovative solutions that enhance criminal intelligence, policing and law enforcement across Australia.

Key projects embracing digital transformation include:

The National Criminal Intelligence System (NCIS) Pilot Program

Delivery of a national criminal intelligence system will vastly improve the way criminal intelligence and information is shared and used across law enforcement agencies, meaning the right people will have timely access to relevant and necessary information, improving our ability to prevent, detect and disrupt threats.

A pilot of the NCIS is currently being run with a restricted group of law enforcement users.

The Biometric Identification Services (BIS) project 

The BIS project will replace the existing National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) and enhance law enforcement’s biometric capabilities with the delivery of a national facial recognition solution for police agencies. 

The BIS solution will deliver police agencies with an improved tool that will contribute to the effectiveness of operational policing, improve safety of front line police and enhance community safety and security.

The National Order Reference System (NORS)

This new technical capability will facilitate information sharing and enforcement of Domestic Violence Orders (DVO) between courts and police across Australia. It will also underpin the National DVO Scheme model laws agreed by the Coalition of Australian Governments in December 2015.

The ACIC is currently working with police, courts and justice agency partners in every state and territory to understand their requirements and the technical functionality they need from the national system. 

This is a complex project, which will require our partners to make significant changes to IT systems and business processes. It will take a few years to complete, but all partners agree, this is a change that needs to happen. We need to better connect the police and the courts, so we can enforce more protection orders, and protect vulnerable families.

What is the role of innovation in your department? 

Innovative ICT capabilities are essential to service delivery for the ACIC. 

Our key priority for 2016–17 is to enhance our information systems and national databases. This will be underpinned by our ICT Strategy, currently under development.

As technology advances, the ACIC will become more capable of delivering innovative service by rapidly assessing new ideas and often realising solutions in an iterative manner.

Being on the front foot with advancements in ICT and improving staff capabilities is as important as upgrading infrastructure in order to deliver quality, poignant and timely resources to our law enforcement partners.

What challenges do you face in achieving your goals?

The ICT arena transforms regularly. Changes are not limited to developments in infrastructure and technology. Shifting expectations of service delivery, responding to business needs particularly as a new agency, and maintaining relevant skills across the workforce create the hardest challenges. 

The management of changing technology and infrastructure is a much more straight forward task and easier to understand. The persistent reform of technology does however require a workforce willing and capable of adapting and improving skills; managing this requires a significant level of effort.

Traditionally the public service finds it difficult to keep skills and positions relevant for the work that is required. To go some way to achieving this we are working toward a tighter partnership with the education sector and also with industry. 

Where are we heading—what does collaboration look like at the Federal level?

Working closely and collaboratively with existing partner agencies is a priority, to strengthen the ability to respond to crime affecting Australia. A key objective of the merge is to ensure there is no disruption to the information capabilities and services currently provided by each agency to police and law enforcement agencies.

A priority for the ACIC will be to fill any cross-agency IT gaps. This may lead to consolidation of previously incompatible IT systems that cost precious resources and time will be replaced with more integrated capability.

At a federated level, we have a vision for law enforcement agencies to use a single data entry point to feed in and out of ACIC systems where operational data and intelligence will ultimately provide a national view of law enforcement information including imminent threats.

The more agile these systems become, the quicker our police and national security agencies will be able to prevent, detect and disrupt significant threats. 

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