Western Australia Police's newly appointed chief information officer Craig Ward is making the state-wide police radio network and flexible access to skilled technology staff his top priorities.
A police officer with 28 years experience, Ward moved to the CIO role from his previous position as director of Strategy and Performance in December 2009.
"My job is making sure that what's delivered from an IT systems perspective is what the operational side of the organisation needs," he told ZDNet.com.au yesterday. "What we've delivered in the past is what the organisational arm wanted, not what they needed."
One of his major aims is to oversee the replacement of the police radio network across regional Western Australia.
"This was a major electoral commitment from the government and a major safety issue for police," he said. "If a copper calls from help, we need to make sure someone can hear them and respond."
Ward is also looking to expand the police mobile data network from Perth to the rest of the stat. This will enable the force to roll out handheld Tasking and Dispatch Information Systems (TADIS) handheld computers, which are currently used in Perth, to officers across the state. TADIS provides live access to WA and national criminal databases, photos, names, addresses, firearms and vehicle information.
"It's about sound decision making," said Ward. "You make your best decisions when you've got the best information. That's critical to policing." The IT department also needed to be "more responsive to the changing needs of policing", he said.
"We're probably the only 24x7 organisation in the state, so it's important that we're responsive and agile," he explained. "The service you get in Kununurra is the same as you get in Albany or the suburbs of Perth."
To achieve this aim, the police force has restructured its sourcing strategy and mix of vendors "so we can get the right people at the right time, while working within the constraints of the government tendering process", he said. WA Police signed a $25 million radio equipment contract with Motorola last September and IT services contracts worth more than $60 million with Ajilon and CSC last May.
"We're trying to get the ability to get projects up quickly," said Ward. "There's always a tension between home-grown resources and top-line people that we can get in quickly. We don't want to always rely on external people but at the same time realise we won't always have everything we need internally."
Before Ward's appointment, the role had lain vacant since August 2008 and been temporarily filled by acting director of Corporate Programs and Development Tony O'Donoghue.