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Met Police puts iPads, Windows and Android mobes on trial

No decision on what to use for two years, though

The long-awaited arrival of mobile devices in the Metropolitan Police is still another two years away, interim chief technology officer of the Met Stephen Deakin has told El Reg.

The Met is currently trialling 850 iPads. However, Deakin said the force is also assessing commodity devices running Windows, Android and iOS.

"We are in the process of looking at whether to run all three systems, or whether to just have one platform," he told The Register at the police tech provider TASER Summit.

"We have a Microsoft ecosystem, so in many ways Microsoft would be an easy option, but we're currently looking at the cost of having a multi-platform approach and the cost of not having multi-platform."

Issues around security and battery life are part of the reason it has taken this long for the police to get mobile devices, he said. For example, Microsoft has only just caught up in terms of battery life for tablets, he said.

However, the deployment of 30,000 devices is still another two years away due to lengthy procurement process and the new emergency services network framework not due to be out until 2017.

The iPad trial has meant a number of victims have been able to receive crime references at the scene of the incident, rather than have to go back to the office to process their notes.

"We want to make sure an officer does not have to spend the last 90 minutes of their shift typing into a system designed in the 70s or 80s."

Deakin said the force currently has 520 technology systems, a number it is in the process of consolidating.

The Met has come under fire for its creaking IT estate. In 2013 the London Assembly said 70 per cent of the force's technology platforms are redundant, with that figure rising to 90 per cent by 2016.

The force is cutting the number of its data centres from six down to two and is building a private cloud. It is also in the process of moving out of Scotland Yard and moving its legacy systems into a new location.

"We want to really push hard on virtualization," said Deakin. The Met is currently in the process of outsourcing its number of IT staff from 800 down to 100.

He said the force had acquired a substantial IT function over the years.

"The important point is to retain an intelligent client function, rather than just outsource everything," he said.

It will be breaking its contracts up into a "tower model" and is currently tendering for a system integrator to manage the contracts.

"We want to become more agile and [benefit from the] depth of skills of our new vendors," he said. ®

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