Designing a new e-police system in EstoniaHow design thinking and agile development led to a new e-police system in Estonia
Designing a new e-police system in Estonia
- Autumn 2015-present
- Client type
- Public sector
- Design support
- SMIT and the development team from the Police and Border Guard
The Estonian Police Board started the development of the main police information system in 2004. The first mobile workstations were installed in patrol cars in 2005 and consisted of a touch-screen monitor, keyboard and chip card reader. By the end of 2008 all patrol cars were equipped with relevant devices. Now, almost a decade on, it was evident the mobile workstation, called m-Kairi, no longer met the requirements and needs of the patrol police and border guard officers. The system was 10 years old, technically obsolete and did not allow for new functionalities. Not only that, but the system of large data volumes was visually weak, data was displayed in tables, information search was clumsy and slow.
It was time to change.
Enter the new e-police solution, intended for the response unit of the 200 strong Police and Border Guard Board. Beginning the development process in autumn 2015 as part of the agile development method implemented in SMIT a year ago, the main requirements were user convenience and quick response. Also taken into account was the mobile nature of the work undertaken by patrol officers. The internal development team needed to create a simple information solution for patrol officers with a clean design language and mobile abilities.
How design helped
The development process utilised user-centred design, where the challenges and needs of the end-user, in this case the police officers and border guards, remained constantly in focus.
Police officers and border guards are regularly required to make quick decisions and visual information helps to do that. To accommodate this need, the information display format was changed completely, providing police officers and border guards with a quick overview of the checked object or persons. The new system displays visual copies of the actual document, for instance a driver's licence, so the police officers can easily recognise the document type. This way if the police officer is presented with a document they are not familiar with (from a foreign country for example), they can easily compare it with one already in the system. All the necessary information is displayed on the screen and very straightforward, green ticks or pictograms indicate no issues while red indicates an issue with the licensee, registration or incorrect or incomplete data.
The information system is developed using agile software development methods, meaning new solutions and functional bits of the application are delivered as soon as they're ready. This allows for the system to be completed in stages while continually tested by the end-user. Feedback is vital - a feedback form is available withing the device and sent straight to the development team in order to make the changes necessary to improve the system.
The whole development team is motivated by a strong feeling of ownership because they themselves are the users. By constantly testing the system, the goal is to add functionality and users to the new system gradually. "This gives us good feedback about whether the solution meets the needs of police officer and what they think needs improving" says Imre Kollo, e-police project manager at SMIT.
In May 2016, six patrol cars were equipped with the new e-police software as a pilot project and by the end of 2016, the new e-police system will have replaced its predecessor in all patrol cars of Police and Border Guard Board.
New additions in software, hardware and features such as serving calls and a digital diary are already being planned. It is important to note the e-police system will never be complete because - as is the case with agile development - the solution is constantly evolving and developing.