Quite a few value-added resellers (VARs) and managed services providers (MSPs) have spent years building their businesses by specializing in technology solutions for local government and law enforcement. Fast forward to 2020 – first a pandemic and then widespread protests and calls to defund the police. Depending on the region you serve, you may be watching the potential to renew contracts or win new business vaporize.
Is This a Turning Point?
Many government leaders who have voted to decrease police funding in their communities have asserted that they don’t intend to end law enforcement. They just want to change it. Some see the path as allocating more funding to social services, even having social workers respond to incidents sparked by mental health issues or drug addiction.
Still, most local leaders acknowledge that some situations require a response by “legacy” police officers. With smaller budgets, it begs the question whether those law enforcement professionals will have the resources and tools they need. It seems like the situation is shaping up to be a challenge looking for solutions – and the right solutions providers.
Will the Defund-the-Police Movement Lead to Digital Policing?
A Council on Foreign Relations blog explores the idea that the current climate may lead to a rise in “digital policing.” This technology-based strategy could include solutions such as:
- Digital surveillance systems
- Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered smart systems
- Geolocation technology
- Data mining
Prior to the events of 2020, NetMotion Software blogged about the benefits of digital policing, including:
- Anytime, anywhere access to data
- Improved data collection processes
- Converting all types of data to searchable, digital format
- Real-time location data on officers and their vehicles
Additionally, a 2015 Deloitte white paper points out that digital policing can leverage predictive analytics, helping to direct resources to areas where crime is most likely to occur – and stop it before it happens. It can use social media listening to instantly identify criminal activity or people who need help. Digital transformation of policing can also enable electronic witness statements, real-time sharing of case files and crowd-sourced investigations.
Deloitte explains, just as organizations and businesses in other verticals, law enforcement undergoing digital transformation requires stepping back to take a look at goals, current processes and how technology can make it more efficient and effective. Digital policing also requires a “new breed” of police. Officers would no longer be tied to a station or beat; they’ll have mobile access to information and be better positioned to make decisions. They’ll also receive briefings and assignments in different ways, and police management will change.
What Will the Future Bring?
Municipalities that have made decisions to defund the police and change the way they carry out law enforcement are still in planning stages. Other cities have yet to make a decision or are firmly behind law enforcement operations as they stand.
Regardless of whether your clients come down on the side of the defund the police movement or maintaining their current organization, they need your advice on how to operate most efficiently and effectively, doing the most they can with the resources they have. If there’s change in your market, introduce your business to new stakeholders, build relationships with new contacts and expand your portfolio. If no change is on the horizon for your clients, consider ways to maintain or expand the services you provide.
Experienced government VARs and MSPs shouldn’t be on the sidelines now. Your knowledge of the industry, solutions that work and those that don’t, the level of security required and how to attain it, and the stakeholders in your market position you as a valuable advisor as local governments navigate change.