UMS Case Study: Essex Police

UMS delivers its first community messaging system in the UK, to a police force that supports the largest population in the East of England, Essex Police.

UMS delivers its first community messaging system in the UK to the Essex Police.

Recipients are able to choose from a variety of channels including email, SMS and voice calls to be kept informed of alerts pertaining their area. Within just a fewmonths, 7,000 active registrants have already signed up for this crime prevention service. This number is expected to rapidly increase.

munities across the county using ap- propriate engagements tactics, in a cost effective way. This had been the subject of discus- sion and debate for some time within the Neighbourhood Watch Group follow- ing the demise of a historic system and had become a priority concern as the concepts of predictive policing, active citizen and capable guardianship have been embraced by Chief Officers. From consultations with representatives from partners, community groups and watch schemes, there was a clear desire to have an efficient messaging system that provides timely, relevant information to the recipient to bring about significant BACKGROUND Essex Police is historically known as the forefront of technology and innovation within the police forces in the UK. They recognised the need to reconnect with the community using modern channels for to- day’s culture and saw the potential within UmS: a global mass notifications company with specialisation in public communica- tion serving over 1,000 clients worldwide.

Other than through their media depart- ment, Essex Police did not have a joint approach to the delivery of corporate messages. At a local level, neighbour- hood policing teams communicated with their communities through neighbour- hood action panels, forums, local meet- ings and to a lesser degree, through social media. Various networks had been established over the years around business and retail communities, farming groups, licensees, voluntary organisations and other partners. However, these were separate systems that required admin- istration and support, lacking a consist- ent approach from one group to the next. Connecting with these networks and engaging with the public was identi- fied as a key requirement to improving

community engagement and crime prevention.

Having met and considered the leading providers in the communications market, after a rigorous tendering process UMS was chosen as the successful tenderer. REqUIREmENTS Essex Police required an online interac- tive two-way messaging system to de- liver specific messages to targeted groups and geographic areas to convey text, email and voice mail. The system needed to be simple and allow the po- lice and its partners to warn and inform the communities across the county us- ing appropriate engagements tactics in a cost effective way. The system needed to be simple and allow the Police and its partners to warn and inform the com-


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outcomes in relation to enhanced mem- bership, coverage, intelligence, promo- ting neighbourhood policing and crime prevention. CommUNITy mESSAgINg SySTEm Our community messaging system had met all the requirements for Essex Police and had introduced additional functions that will supplement crime prevention in Essex. A multitude of channels were provided to fully reach and involve all members of the commu- nity, this incorporated the use of email, SMS, voice call, social media, web pub- lishing and push notifications within the application. The key focus in design was simplicity. Our platform had to be intuitive for IT users of all levels: our quick five step sending process is a testament of our ease of use:

self-explanatory; using maps provided by Google, circular or customised poly- gon selections can be saved for later use including selecting pre-assigned DMAs. Geo-fencing technologies incorporates these boundaries by sending alerts to users who enter a designated area, a perfect feature for location-enabled de- vices. An important aspect was the ability for two-way communication to be enabled or disabled before a sending, so that an appeal for information can be easily replied through a user’s preferred chan- nel whereas a general announcement would not require responses. As a communications company we are fully aware of the risks of channel con- gestion and the dependency of telecom- munications especially in times of emer- gency, which is exactly the reason why we have patented technology to prevent overloading on any communication net- work. An additional feature we had introduced to Essex Police was the necessity of an App, in order to future proof the solution and incorporate a wider community, the existence of an app would bridge and engage the community on a larger scale. The benefits of real-time location based REvoLUTIoNARy mobILE APPLICATIoN

“Essex Community Messaging will get key crime and crime prevention information out to communities faster than ever before. It will also improve the two-way flow of information about community safety between Essex Police, neighbourhood and other watch groups, and the people of Essex”.

Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex

1. Name of the alert 2. Select recipients 3. Select channel 4. Compose message 5. Send

From the very start, UMS had recognised Essex Police’s existing electoral wards, sub-wards and district metered areas (DMA) and ensured that the boundaries and data would be fully integrated onto the mapping system. Map selection is


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alerts provided an effective and relevant alerting system that doesn’t just target stationary addresses where recipients may or may not be present. With the in- troduction of geo-fencing, community engagement has naturally increased as this has provided relatable information based on users interests. More significantly, the App had allowed Essex Police to benefit from free mes- saging, diverting messaging costs from traditional channels such as SMS and voice calls. Collaboration with UMS Essex Police and UMS had worked very closely together to produce a bespoke system adhering to the requirements. Our consistent project meetings pro- duced many new ideas that were formed to create the most effective tool in com- munity messaging. During App development, Essex Police contributed greatly on both the design and functionality of the App, including highlighting many potential uses for tack- ling crime and day-to-day operating po- licing that have been implemented be- cause of our interactions. Due to time commitments and minimal

resources, Essex Police were unable to host support for both internal and external enquiries for their system. Despite not having previously agreed on any conditions regarding external support, a local number was set up by UMS to which has been published on all Essex Police sources to handle support calls. UMS has been answering phone enquiries since and will continue to pro- vide assistance even after Essex’s inter- nal support team is established as their backup level of expertise. UMS provided a high level of support and commitment and went beyond the contract to support their client at no additional cost. Our devotion was also apparent when on-site training was provided in addi- tion during the weekends, to accom- modate for the availability of neighbour- hood watch members’ schedules. UMS’ dedicated support staff travelled to their preferred locations and presented dem- onstrations at again, no extra cost and with provisions outside of the contract. Overall, the community messaging system was a success and our favour- able experience with Essex Police has provided a benchmark to all UK po- lice forces with more forces looking to

advocate our robust systems. As the first organisation in the UK to adopt a UMS system, this has positively unlocked opportunities throughout the UK.

“We’re delighted that we now have a brand new messaging system, and look forward to improving our ability to help Essex Police reduce the level of crime across our county.”

Alan Johnson, Chair of the Essex County Neighbourhood Watch Association

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