In this context, in which stopping the spread of COVID19 has been a priority over recent weeks, the security forces have had to enforce restrictions on mobility to control the spread of the virus to guarantee health services and control physical distancing between people and protect against the risk of contagion. In some way, we could be led to think that these new control and contention tasks would further instill the negative image we might sometimes have of police officers.
But fortunately that hasn’t been the case. If this situation has brought us anything new, it has been the view of how these professionals, through their daily actions, form a key link in the value and service chain that attempts to sustain our society in the face of the tremors brought by the coronavirus.
Human gestures such as helping the elderly in the street or singing “Happy Birthday” to children through windows are nothing if not part of the public service work they provide, which in this case have been shared via media. But they also work in critical areas like protecting these children, combating gender-based violence and human trafficking. These are other areas of security where technological aspects as well as human ones come into play, as well as new technological capacities such as big data and analytical data processing.
There are many factors that impact directly on how police work is done today: the trend in terms of restrictions of public budgets that have impacted notably on the capacities of our security forces together with the growing demand among citizens for more services, greater proximity and new services, could place in danger the provision of services as essential as the security of the people and the country.
The challenge here is whether we're capable of transforming institutions and how they operate to adapt them to the new reality of the public safety service in a political, economic and social context that has changed and continues to change:
• In this new reality, new types of crimes arise, emerging from a virtual / digital world that is used by criminals. That world evolves at a breakneck pace and there is no accumulated experience of it. Together with new possibilities in terms of mobility, it allows criminals to follow new patterns in behavior, dislocating and overcoming geographies, borders and states. Faced with these new threats, it is essential to balance the scales, and that our police officers have the tools to stay “connected”, with information available in real time and the way they need it, with the job of police officer evolving towards a digital and mobile one. The digital world also demands a new concept of virtual patrol.
• In this new reality, they are called on to do more, but with less: It is important then, to focus on the strategic model of the State Security Forces towards a way of operating based “smart efficiency”. Efficiency through the simplification and automation of operations achieving a reduction of the workload and the elimination of repetitive tasks with no value, or by optimizing the distribution of resources based on this new demand. Smart in shifting form a reactive focus towards another focus based on models of prevention, anticipation and predictability thanks to advanced data analytics.
• In this new reality, citizens intervene, act and empower themselves: transparency, proximity, flexibility, customization versus privacy, “what about me?” etc. are common demands of citizens for any service a country provides and public safety is no different. It becomes crucial to have in place the design of the experience in new services in new digital channels that make a closer, community police force possible.
• In this new reality, we must be conscious that it is not possible to have a quality public service without looking after the people who provide it. That's why it's essential to create an organizational culture of trust and well-being at work. We must commit to flexible and innovative work and collaboration environments. It is crucial that police officers have the resources and technology they need on hand, access to information and continuous training that fosters a culture of change. Ultimately, these actions will ensure that the provision of a public service like Security is attractive and it will attract the best professionals.
This new reality also demands a transformation beyond mere technological digitalization; it requires a transformation that also involves progressive cultural change and change in the processes of the organization while maintaining the fundamental values of the State Security Forces and the mission for which they have been created, which society is not always capable of recognizing.
Here at everis we have the opportunity to collaborate in this transformation of public security services in Spain, of doing things that matter and have a real impact on society, starting with an understanding of the challenges faced and making solutions and cutting edge technologies available to the great professionals responsible for our national security so that the work of our police officers on a day-to-day basis remains effective and valuable. This way that work is valued without the need for a global pandemic to come along to make us reflect on it.