Met police switches burned CDs for Box cloud storage

The Metropolitan Police Service is rolling out cloud file storage to 50,000 members of staff within the coming months, as it looks to reduce its reliance on CDs and improve the security of its file sharing practices.

Speaking to the press during the official opening of Box's new London office just off the Old Street roundabout in Shoreditch this week, Angus McCallum, CIO at the Metropolitan police said that the 50,000 seats will be available to officers by the end of Q2 this year.

The deal was announced back in September last year. The organisation has now finished its pilot and is nearing completion of the rollout. McCallam said the main holdup to the rollout was getting Box integrated with the Met's existing single sign-on system.

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McCallum said that the Met will now be moving away from "other document storage systems". The Met is an existing Microsoft Azure customer, where it will continue to store body-worn camera video footage.

The Met is also currently in the middle of an organisation-wide migration from Windows XP to Windows 10, which McCallum said is due to be complete across all laptops and tablets by May this year.

Examples of Box in action

McCallum shared a couple of examples of how the Met can start to leverage Box's cloud storage to help save the valuable time of its officers.

For example, previously if there was an incident on a London bus, the Met would have to request the bus garage burn the CCTV footage to a CD or USB drive and then either send it via courier, or send an officer to collect it. Now it wants to set up Box folders for each bus garage so that footage can be sent digitally via secure links.

"We are doing a similar thing for 999 calls," McCallum said. "Before when we got a 999 call that wants to go to court we would burn CDs that would be shared with defence lawyers and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Now that is shared through electronic links."

In short: "Box allows us to share links in a very secure way, see who has access - who has seen it - and we can control what people do with it."

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The Met will also increasingly use Box internally for document storage, helping the organisation move away from a cultural propensity to rely on email as a document repository, McCallum explained.

Why Box?

When asked why the Met opted for Box instead of a rival solution - like Dropbox or Microsoft SharePoint for example - McCallum explained: "A large part was ease of use and simplicity. Secondly was [Box's] willingness to engage with us and help us through the pilots."

Security was also a pressing concern, with the Met conducting its own penetration tests to ensure the solution was up to scratch. McCallum also said that the ability to hold its own encryption keys was attractive.

Naturally the ability of Box to give the Met's IT team visibility into who is accessing which files, set access controls and set expiry thresholds on links gives the force far greater security control than sending CDs around London via couriers.

The Met also liked the fact that Box allows for file sharing without third parties needing a Box licence.

Lastly, the Box roadmap gives the Met access to cutting-edge innovations without having to constantly reinvest in technology or people. "It is an off-the-shelf product with development coming and [we] are going to take advantage of it as it comes, without having to reinvest," he said.

In particular the upcoming AI-powered features, called Box Skills, piqued McCallum's interest. "The roadmap and ability to search metadata and things like that is very important," he said.

Read next: Box adds machine learning to cloud storage with Box Skills

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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