Evaluation of mobile systems and mobile analytics

Researcher: Daniel Pugh
Principal supervisor: Professor David Allen

Report expected in March 2022.

Mobile data systems have been and continue to be an area of significant investment for UK Police Forces. Research undertaken by Allen and Norman indicates that in 2003 47% of police services in England and Wales had invested in mobile data systems, this had increased to 75% in 2006 and by 2012 all police services were actively engaged in deploying some form of mobile data system. Despite this activity and the significant investment it entailed the effective evaluation of the influence of these information systems on the performance of policing has been and remains a problematic area for the services. Evaluation is often not undertaken or is carried out ineffectively or inefficiently and best practice does not seem to be effectively transferred between forces. Information System (IS) evaluation has been identified as a problem not only for the police but also within the wider public sector in the UK and as a ‘thorny problem’ for scholarship.

The current generation of mobile systems being deployed within UK police services provide new forms of data which can be used to evaluate the influence these systems have on the performance of policing. These include location data, social media transactions, electronic notebooks or data drawn from the use of body worn cameras. While there is emerging practice within the police services in the use of analytics to understand such transactional data this remains embryonic. Equally, the use of mobile systems also illuminates data that was gathered but was unavailable or inaccessible to analysis. This data can now be used to measure or understand performance. Few of these are, however, incorporated into ‘conventional’ evaluation models and processes.

The purpose of this study was to understand and explore the mechanisms by which forces are evaluating their mobile systems and the measures and data sources that they are using. An in depth exploration of practice in the nominated force will allow for the development of more effective approaches to evaluation and, through action research, the validation of these in a practice setting.