Victoria Police … plastering over underlying IT disasters with sexy gear?


blog Your writer was somewhat bemused to note news over the past few days that the Victorian State Government appears to have thrown a stack of cash at Victoria Police for sexy new technology to be used by officers in the line of duty. An article published by ZDNet yesterday (we recommend you click here for the full yarn) details the cash splurge:

“Victorian Police are slated to receive a technology boost in the state’s upcoming 2016-2017 Budget, with Premier Daniel Andrews allocating AU$36.8 million to upgrade the force.”

The boys in blue are in line, apparently, for hot new gadgets such as body worn cameras, tablets and more, in an effort to modernise the force.

Not mentioned, of course, are the significant problems which Victoria Police faces with fundamental IT service delivery.

In 2012, Victoria’s State Services Authority delivered a comprehensive report finding that Victoria Police had, essentially, no ability to deliver major ICT projects within its operations, highlighting the force’s failure to deliver its key information systems project LEAP as a major example of this trend. And Victoria Police has not precisely covered itself in glory in the IT management field since that date.

Its outdated systems are so terrible that in February 2014, its chief commissioner laid part of the blame for the death of 11-year-old boy Luke Batty at the doorstep of its ailing IT systems, which failed to provide officers with sufficient information to apprehend his violent father in a timely manner.

Some may also recall a report in June 2014 that found Victoria Police’s IT systems were so out of date that police officers often simply went home to open modern documents on their own PCs. Joy.

Victoria Police has since starting taking a series of steps to remediate its woeful IT systems (see the bottom of this article also) … but one does wonder just how far the effort has progressed.

Is it any good handing out tablets to police officers in the field, if the information systems back at head office at still stuck in the dark ages?


  1. My employer has decided to “go paperless”. It’s the usual route, a (presumably flat-file) database on a server talking to the iPads in the field. The iPads seem to have only the most basic memory (read: smallest), and must apparently transmit every keystroke back to the server and get confirmation before continuing. The server appears to not have sufficient capacity to “service” very many iPads simultaneously, resulting in frequent drop-outs.

    At the end of a job, our client must use this technology to sign us off… if we can connect. You can probably sense the client’s frustration when the iPad simply does not respond for 5 or 10 minutes.

    I’ve never been enthusiastic about “The Cloud”. Now that I work with it, I am even less enthusiastic: if the iPad can’t write to the HDD in real time and update the server “when convenient” then what good is it? “Is it any good handing out tablets to [workers] in the field, if the information systems back at head office at still stuck in the dark ages?” Financial restraints often dictate what hardware can be purchased, and we note that paper is still far more economical than IT hardware. So I wonder if the Age of Enlightenment is being delayed by hostile pricing?

    • I would suggest it is also hampered by very poor software design choices.

      Many people (including many I work with) appear to assume designing robust, reliable and efficient software and systems is a wave of a magic wand. It isn’t! It takes much study and astute selection of design patterns and a thorough understanding of security, user interface, data maintenance and retention, redundancy and network requirements in order to produce a system which not only doesn’t immediately annoy end-users from the onset, but stands the test of time. In this current economy, that can mean your systems must be designed for 15-20 years. Most of these bespoke ‘cloud apps’ seem to be thrown together with a complete lack of either a full “waterfall” design process (with consultation and functional specs and the like) or a long-term iterative process. Either work if done correctly, but they rarely are.

  2. It does solve the issue where they had to open documents their home computers. Now the police can just open the documents on the tablets… assuming that IT doesn’t lock the tablets down enough to prevent that.

  3. Pffft … why don’t they focus more on getting these guys to actually turn up when you call them? That’s sure be a major improvement.

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