Fjord: Developing a Police Force's Digital Experience for Citizens

In 2014, one of the largest police forces in the UK committed to a radical transformation programme that would help the force meet current and future policing needs, manage citizen expectations and reduce cost across its operations. Part of this transformation includes improving public contact and defining new channels through which the police could respond to citizens’ needs—not only in a more efficient and effective way, but in a more inclusive way as well.

Introduction

In 2014, one of the largest police forces in the UK committed to a radical transformation programme that would help the force meet current and future policing needs, manage citizen expectations and reduce cost across its operations. Part of this transformation includes improving public contact and defining new channels through which the police could respond to citizens’ needs—not only in a more efficient and effective way but in a more inclusive way as well.

The research found police forces have a traditionally fragmented process, which for a citizen can lack feedback and transparency. Systemic communication blockers are as common. The police have developed workarounds for these blockers, but they come at a cost: a reduction in efficiency and decreased visibility in the process for citizens.

There is always a heavy demand (on average, four calls every minute of every hour of every day, 365 days of the year) on the Force’s 999 emergency and 101 non-emergency telephony channels which are used for all types of queries. Our research found that a large number of internal administrative requests are logged via this channel, which has an impact on the capacity of contact handlers to help citizens who are truly in need.

Our service proposition leveraged digital channels to reduce the administrative tasks to a minimum for both officers and contact handlers. Tools like Online Crime Reporting’ provided citizens with clarity regarding individual cases and progress in development. As a result, contact handlers and officers can focus on matters that require and benefit from human contact.

Furthermore, we delivered a tool which, through natural language search, empowers citizens to better identify their situation or problem. All options available are then explained through a visual, step-by-step breakdown which outlines the different types of crimes that can be reported, the phases of the process, and possible actions and timelines. Citizens who previously might not have felt comfortable reporting a crime now have a clearer understanding of the process and an idea of what to expect if they were to report an incident.

The Process of Co-Design and Co-Delivery

Understanding the field

The research phase of this project involved both qualitative and quantitative research. We interviewed 35 members of the police, partners and members of the public to understand the challenges in public contact. We also analysed 3500 calls that the Force had received and categorised, and then used data visualisation to extract meaningful insights that wouldn’t be visible otherwise.

When we saw how diverse the landscape displayed by the data was, we quickly realised that combining the two kinds of research would provide us with real, actionable insights. This gave scale to our findings thanks to the underlying data, and gave depth to our data due to the additional context provided by the interviews. This led to the creation of “data-infused” journeys.

By conducting interviews, we identified five unique citizen journeys based on different crimes. We then infused each specific journey with the data previously collected. As the journey can be radically different for each citizen, we accounted for each different segment of callers with variations in the journeys based on the data provided.

Making the Research Tangible

This visualisation was used in ideation sessions with members of the police, partners and the citizens. Specifically, it helped us define user journeys made with multiple variables, representing all the possible scenarios in which citizens’ encounters with the police might take place. These findings were then used later in our process to create and measure our service concepts against all the possible variations along the citizen journey. After we identified our service concepts, we ran multiple workshops to prioritise and validate our concepts. From there, we created a roadmap on how to deliver these concepts and started the next phase of the project: developing the service thereafter. Together with one of the Police Force, we implemented the selected concepts and created the procedures for a new, more modern service. The project went live in July 2017 and is the foundation upon which the Police Force continue to develop their new ways of public contact ambition.

Output

By doing extensive research and generating new methodologies, we managed to get a clear picture and evidence base to the challenges in public contact and developed insights that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Using design methodologies, we managed to translate these insights to deliver a modern and human centred digital service.

User-centered Transformation
The citizens now have clarity, and understand the ways the police operate and how they can assist citizens. They can also see what would happen in the case of a hypothetical crime and how the police would react, and they can stay updated and track the progress of the case they are involved with.

Organisational Impact
Like most of the police forces in UK, the Police force we worked with were extremely compassionate. As a result of our service design project and research findings, we could jointly see that increased transparency would improve their ability to serve the public and legitimacy. At the same time, by identifying inefficiencies in their process and providing practical solutions, they will have more time to help the public in more meaningful ways. The Force also recognised the diversity of the situations in which citizens need their help and has now diversified their approach to answer different needs in the most appropriate and empathetic way possible for each individual case.

Benefits for Whole ‘Support Ecosystem’
Along with the output of the project, it’s important to note all the material and support provided for sustainable growth of the services and the spread of human-centred techniques within the Police Force.

First, there was the training provided to the members of the force around service design methodologies, human-centred design and data visualisation. These training sessions really helped the police understand the value of design approaches and allowed us to gain their trust, thereby facilitating an effective co-creation process across different departments within the organisation. Secondly, we delivered ‘Design Principles’ and a ‘Design System’.

These tools proved to be instrumental in articulating the fundamental goals that all decisions should be measured against, and keep all parts of the project moving in the same direction to allow our entire team to learn, build and grow.

The specific project deliverables can be divided between service design outputs and delivery outputs.

Service Design Outputs:

  • Research summary
  • Data visualisations
  • Data visualisation workshop
  • User journeys with multiple variables
  • Benchmarking analysis
  • Service concepts & prototypes
  • Prioritisation framework & delivery roadmap
  • Design principles

Delivery Outputs:

  • Design language
  • UI/Kit design system
  • Information architecture
  • Redesign the website
  • Detailed advice and support functionality
  • Creating incident reporting online
  • Feedback and process journey for reported crimes
  • Creating statement journey

Impact

Efficacy and Efficiency Combined

This project primarily impacts upon 2.8 million citizens who live in the region as well as the millions of people who work in or visit the region every year. The importance of combining a human-centred approach with new digital ways of working cannot be underestimated. This is resulting in service improvements both financially and otherwise — efficiencies through streamlined processes, increased productivity, and better access to information enabling police officers and staff to focus on preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need.

A Virtuous Circle

Historically, police forces in the UK co-operate by sharing successful initiatives from other UK police forces. Based on our research, we expect that this work will not only have a positive impact on the public, but will save the Force time and money. Our experiences have also been shared with other UK police forces.

Quantified Impact

The citizen response to these concepts has been positive and enthusiastic.

"It logs and tells you just how far you have got with your case and all the important details you need to know, it tells you how long it may take the police to get back in touch with you, [and] it keeps you up-to-date and lets you know exactly what you want to know,” one resident said. “To me the idea is fantastic, this is one of those things I can see making a really big change on how the police and community engage."

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