The Canadian-funded project has helped to develop the command, control and coordination of local security services. It cost almost $6 million in total, was supported by the EU Co-ordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUPOL COPPS) and was implemented by UNOPS.
The project, which started in 2009, first built the required computer and telecommunications infrastructure to connect Palestinian police districts with the main headquarters. This provided the platform needed to accommodate the new centralized information system.
Palestinian civil police needs
The Palestinian civil police force, created in 1994, is responsible for policing in Palestinian urban centres in the West Bank and Gaza. The new information and communications technology (ICT) system has been developed to help the force better manage police casework, operations and services as well as reducing the time-consuming and ineffective manual handling of case files and related processes.
This has enabled police to respond quickly and effectively to community needs as well as meeting the Palestinian Authority's obligations "to end violence, terrorism, and incitement through restructured and effective Palestinian security services", under the international road map for peace to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Chief of Police’s Assistant for Planning and Development, Brigadier General Mohammad Sahmoud said the system would empower the police force: "To carry out their tasks in serving society and combating crime in a more professional, precise, and speedy manner."
The new ICT system was successfully designed, tested and deployed within the scheduled 20 months, and is currently both in production and pilot stages in several districts throughout the West Bank. More than 80,000 digital documents have already been uploaded and processed.
Suleiman Khatib, the police force's ICT director, said the force is "already starting to experience improvements in its operations, such as our ability to address the manual handling of workflows and our coordination with the criminal justice sector."
The information system will eventually be able to provide the police with accurate and immediate information about different areas of interests such as criminal behaviour, criminal hot-spots, and patterns of incidents.
The new ICT system digitizes the handling of case files, automates the workflow process and provides statistical data for analysis, thereby reducing the inefficiencies of paper records and allowing for better use of resources.
The project was designed in response to a 2008 study of the police's organization and processes by EUPOL COPPS. Before the new system was in place, there were up to a hundred active databases in use, resulting in overlapping, disorganized and out of date information impeding effective police work.
UNOPS managed the design and development of the software system itself, in line with its commitment to sustainability. While it would have been simpler to procure an existing information system from a third party, the significant and perpetual annual licensing costs of this option were deemed unsustainable.
The software currently supports police operations, human resources, case management and document management capabilities, but the open source platform of the system can integrate any additional software components in the future. This allows the system to develop in line with the police force's evolving requirements.
To better serve local needs, the ICT system was designed on the ground in Ramallah, in cooperation with the police force's ICT department and representatives from police operations.
Relying on local labour where possible, the software development team included 13 local software developers and four ICT staff from the police. UNOPS also provided training courses, detailed technical documentation, and on-the-job technical support to police staff, building national capacity by developing the necessary skills for ongoing maintenance and development of the information system.
"The inclusive and participatory approach has engendered excellent cooperation across the sector on ICT related issues, and ensured true local ownership and sustainability of progress," said Paul George, Deputy Director for Africa and Middle East at the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
In other projects to develop the capacity of the Palestinian Civil Police, UNOPS has also built a police training facility, refurbished police stations, procured computers and other equipment, and trained security personnel with support from EUPOL COPPS.
UNOPS in focus