Blog Post How can no-code apps help police departments meet their goals?

Regional police departments are investing more resources and money into their digital strategies and setting some bold goals on how to implement digital solutions. So how can no-code help?

Read through a handful of different police forces’ digital strategies, and it doesn’t take long to notice that this is an institution that is keen to innovate.

The Metropolitan Police has recently deployed 50,000 new digital devices, including laptops, tablets and smartphones and Police Scotland has taken a similar approach. More than 14,000 police officers in Scotland have now been given a mobile device in an effort to increase efficiency and make officers more visible in the communities they serve.

Of course, investing in technology is the first step, but the success of any digital strategy lies in how it’s developed and deployed.

The Met recognises this in their Digital Enabling Framework. They say they “take accountability for technology delivery, making sure our colleagues are able to realise the benefits of technology investment and constantly seek to enhance ways of working as technology evolves”.

The no-code approach is an ideal partner for a large institution like the Police, which is currently undergoing its digital transformation efforts.

We’ve seen first-hand how hard it can be for large-scale institutions to shake off old ways of working through our work with a range of NHS Trusts. But we’ve also seen that, with a willingness to innovate and embrace new processes, change can quickly be affected.

Let’s look at the key goals across the Police and address how no-code can provide the digital solution they’re looking for.

What are the Police’s goals for digital services?

1. Empower employee innovation

This is key to our approach to developing apps here at App Rail – and it’s at the heart of the design thinking methodology that runs throughout everything we do.

Why? Because we know that innovation is best when it comes from people inside an organisation and goes through an iterative process together with the customer. If people are able to solve their own problems, the solutions are much more likely to work and take hold.

It also empowers employees to voice their ideas when they can see that others have benefited from doing so. The SpeakUp app developed for NHS Trusts to address workplace concerns, such as bullying, safety and discrimination, is a great example. The idea for the app came from an employee, who designed the app itself, together with the innovation team. It’s now being rolled out to help employees across the NHS speak up anonymously and safely about issues in the workplace.

It’s easy to see why the Police are keen to encourage a similar system – it’s no secret that they have struggled with similar issues internally. Taking a more transparent approach like this could help to boost employee engagement and morale.

The modular system used in App Rail also empowers employees to go one step further and be fully involved in the app’s product design and development if they wish.

It's a highly intuitive system, which makes use of visual interfaces, drag and drop and pre-configured modules. This means that, even with no formal coding experience, the employee who initiates the idea can produce a professional and functional app.

2. Getting closer to the community

‘Public collaboration’ and ‘community engagement’ are buzzwords in police digital strategies, and there are many references to finding digital solutions to improve these areas.

Again, this is a stalwart of design thinking, which starts with the user problem, then puts the end user at the centre of app development.

And, because App Rail helps customers to work iteratively, you can put prototypes into the hands of the user much quicker. This means you're more likely to get accurate feedback because they can engage with a working prototype or even fully test the product in real life before it goes live.

By involving the user throughout the entire process and bringing in their feedback as you go you can increase the chances of creating a product that serves their needs. And that means it’s more likely to be taken up and used in the community, delivering return on investment.

The other way that App Rail helps you get closer to your communities is by enabling you to collect more in-depth data from their user base. Not only does this give you a clearer understanding of the community, it also helps to inform future iterations of the app.

One app that’s been developed on this level is a remote symptom tracking app that aims to help reduce hospital visits for patients.

By collecting information from patients on a daily basis, the clinical team were able to gather a bigger pool of data to draw on to inform their decisions, like whether they needed a change in medication.

Police working closely with the local community can use similar crowdsourcing methods, such as quick, remote questionnaires. This will give them the data they need without the need for multiple human touchpoints.

3. Automating workflows for increased efficiency

No digital strategy is complete without reference to improved efficiency, and this is a noticeable priority within the police.

In any big organisation, some workflows will be common across all departments – others will be specific to individual teams. Let’s look at a couple of examples to illustrate.

Booking holiday leave is a necessary task across all teams. App Rail’s pre-configured modules make it easy to duplicate the workflows that have already benefited other departments.

Using App Rail, an app can be created to submit a request and automatically send a message to the relevant people, with automation to approve or deny the request, update the calendar and send the reply.

This saves management time where companies were previously manually checking and updating the calendar and replying to requests. Once built, this app could also easily be duplicated across an entire organisation.

An example of automating a workflow for more individual needs would be when people’s arrival has to be signed in at certain locations. An app can be used to track when users have safely arrived, triggering a notification via GPS location tracking (if agreed by participants). This streamlines the process by removing the need to manually let someone know when they have arrived or have someone sign them in.

This idea of streamlining operations is wholly aligned with App Rail. Not only through automating certain workflows to increase efficiency, but through customising the finished app so it can be redeployed in different departments with a similar need for a solution.

Taking this approach also reduces the number of providers you’re dealing with, making procurement and client management much leaner in the long-run.

App Rail works on multiple devices and is native to Android and iOS. So it’s available for police working from a desktop or laptop as well as officers in the field who might use a tablet or mobile phone.

Enabling digital innovation

Embedding new digital practices and processes into a large-scale institution like the Police can be overwhelming. Avoiding duplication between different forces and departments should be a key priority of keeping digital innovation efficient, both in terms of cost and time.

App Rail enables digital innovation by providing solutions that can easily be customised, duplicated and rolled out to suit different departments. And it gives staff a tool that empowers them to bring ideas forward, get closer to the communities they serve and improve their workflows and systems.

To find out more about how App Rail works, get in touch to arrange a 30-minute demo.

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