Crisis management, both internal and external, is a critical component of any police response. And you cannot have effective crisis management without effective communication. If we are to keep both employees and our communities safe, we must be able to immediately connect across personnel and partners. BlackBerry AtHoc has helped us achieve that, allowing us to operate with far greater coordination and ultimately making us more effective as a police force.
— Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes, Greater Manchester Police
A Tool for Fighting Misinformation
On social networks, misinformation spreads in minutes, potentially causing panic.
"The speed of our response needs to match or outpace social media," explains Inspector Spurgeon. "During any police response, it's imperative to match reaction time to the rapid, ever-changing situations that develop. AtHoc allows us to do that with the push of a button."
With BlackBerry® AtHoc®, GMP can ensure key partners are provided with the necessary information to promptly deploy the necessary equipment, personnel, and expertise. A single operator can cascade alerts through the platform in under three minutes, receiving the first responses within a minute of doing so.
AtHoc’s geolocation features have also proved invaluable, allowing officers to automatically receive secure, location-specific intelligence upon entering a geofenced area.
Going Beyond Crisis Management
During major incidents, GMP deploys “documentation teams” to hospitals and reception centres to gather casualty and survivor data, which is then reported to the Casualty Bureau. Initially, these agencies were bogged down by slow, restrictive, and inconsistent deployment. Given that AtHoc had already solved similar resource challenges elsewhere in the agency, GMP expanded its implementation of the platform to its operational support team this year.
“With AtHoc, we're able to alert people, collate available skill sets, and deploy to maximum benefit in the minimum time possible," says Helen Palfrey, North West Regional Casualty Bureau Manager at GMP. "It has hugely improved the speed and slickness of activations during major incidents."
GMP Plans for Regional, Multi-Agency Communications via AtHoc
With AtHoc, Greater Manchester Police made good on plans for a regional, multi-agency response. GMP has used the platform to share critical information to both public and private sector partners, supporting a faster, more co-ordinated response to incidents. In particular, this deepened its relationship with the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS).
And all of this, notes Inspector Spurgeon, is only the beginning.
“Right now, AtHoc is bringing new efficiencies and flexibility to critical incident response across Greater Manchester, which is vital to better protecting public safety,” Inspector Spurgeon explained. “Eventually, however, we want to start linking up with bordering police forces to enhance communications and co-ordinated response across the North West region – maybe even beyond.”
GMP Deployed AtHoc for Resourcing and Staff Welfare During Covid
The agency’s award-winning deployment of BlackBerry's critical event management system has garnered two Continuity, Insurance & Risk (CIR) Awards - including Risk Management Program of the Year and the Public Safety Award - as well as recognition at the National Technology Awards for Mobile Innovation of the Year and Best Public Sector Project. Despite these accolades, Inspector Spurgeon insists the agency is only scratching the surface.
"There's so much more we can do," he explains. "There are so many other elements of AtHoc that we've yet to discuss or explore. The future is looking incredibly bright right now if we continue leveraging the benefits of this technology."