Friday, January 23, 2009

Joined-up Policing

Here's another possible example of joined-up service (see Joined-Up Healthcare and Six Business Improvements).

According to a story in the Australian Courier-Mail (November 2008), the Queensland Police Service and the Queensland Police Union are currently in dispute about the effectiveness of a new records management system called QPRIME, supplied by Canadian firm Niche RMS (via Bruce Schneier).

The police officers complain that data entry, including navigating the new system, takes far too long. According to Mr Leavers, vice-president of the Union, said the system turned jobs that usually took an hour into several hours of angst.
"There was an occasion where two people were arrested on multiple charges. It took six detectives more than six hours to enter the details into QPRIME," he said. "It would have taken even longer to do the summary to go to court the next morning, so basically the suspects were released on bail, rather than kept in custody."

A spokesman for the police authority claims that the problems are caused by unfamiliarity with the new system.
"The benefits of the QPRIME system into the future far outweigh short-term disaffection by some officers. It is already showing its worth in assisting officers to solve significant crimes by allowing them to access information in a holistic manner."
There seems to be some agreement that QPRIME works well for simple incidents. The problem seems to arise when there are multiple suspects for multiple crimes. As one police officer commented:
"The system unfortunately becomes more complicated the more charges and more crime reports an officer needs to deal with."

I don't want to criticize QPRIME based on a single newspaper report, but the report hints at a much more general issue with complexity and business improvement.

This kind of complexity is neither produced nor resolved by SOA technology alone. The challenge for the business analyst is to understand the possible interconnections between multiple instances, to design services that render these interconnections properly, and to develop a workflow that allows users to access these services efficiently and effectively.

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