Public interaction in all its forms, rather than mere information delivery, was the primary aim of the project at Derbyshire Constabulary. The plan also involved several separate websites, so a genuinely enterprise solution was needed, it was important to the authority that the supplier had demonstrable expertise in large scale public service website projects.
Genetics Limited were chosen via public tender because we offered a strong combination of a highly effective CMS and the in-depth skills to implement the project on time and budget. Our ability to develop new Police-specific functionality was also a key asset, as shown by our many excellent reference sites in the public sector and the new features we have had to develop for many of these projects.
The major building blocks which we delivered began with designing the visuals, followed by creating templates for the CMS, structuring and building the site and its functionality, then populating it with migrated and new content. We also developed new bespoke modules to meet specific policing objectives and a negotiated package of knowledge transfer. This was augmented by over-arching project management with a highly effective online, phone and face-to-face communications model.
Following their public tender, Derbyshire Police Authority awarded us the contract to design, develop and build a solution based on Contensis that would “allow the force to more effectively and in a more timely fashion communicate frontline activity within neighbourhoods and will also improve the public’s ability to communicate and open dialogues with the force. Crime reduction and public reassurance benefits will be facilitated through a more effective, usable and localised website.”
Through a rapid and focused scoping exercise, we mapped out a solution that not only fully addressed the immediate requirements of Derbyshire Police but would also have the extensibility for future growth as the organisation’s online activity develops. As a consequence, we ended up crafting modular functionality that would also address the needs of other Police Forces throughout the UK.
The result: “The amount of work and effort that has been put in by everyone over the past few months has been phenomenal. It's grown from a bare shell to a fully-fledged set of sites in a remarkable amount of time, and that doesn't happen by accident. You took the briefs and not only understood what we were looking for in a short space of time, but enhanced and improved on them.” - Ben Sherwin (Web Manager)
When it came to design, as well asking for the specifics of corporate style guidelines - such as font, colour scheme and likes/dislikes - we asked for key words that each design should reflect. Our professional services team worked closely with the design agency to produce designs to reflect the words that came back: engagement, identity, quality, confidence and reassurance. The site had to be approachable without losing the gravitas associated with public safety - from the great feedback received so far we seem to have achieved this!
Modular Police-specific functionality
Once we’d completed the scoping exercise our team developed a new module for Contensis that provides Derbyshire residents with direct access to the policing team working to make their neighbourhoods safer. Users can submit their concerns directly to the policing team through the website and see the priorities in their area that are already being addressed. Visitors to the site can get in touch with the team directly through the site, get details of local meetings, see photographs and the names of the policing team and see photographs of suspects that have been Caught on Camera in their locality.
The user’s experiences of the site was a high priority for us - people will access the site with all levels of technical ability and we wanted to make it as simple as possible to get to the information they need. To address this we have built into the structure of the site three simple methods for finding a local Safer Neighbourhood Team; clear menu navigation, map click-throughs and a postcode search that takes you directly to the team.
The module features include:-
CoC at SNT level
SNT division/section levels
SNT narrow down by map, menu and postcode search
Dynamic homepage based on login
E-newsletters at SNT level
Export of XML for teamDB
Feeds into crime mapper service
Ties in with local Direct.Gov postcode search
Ask the Police Integration
The web team at Derbyshire police have fully embraced the Web 2.0 ethic of re-using and exposing data to offer a fantastic service to their audience - lookout for their Twitter and Facebook pages. Taking full advantage of the flexibility provided by Contensis, the new site augments standard search results by pulling in additional results from the Ask The Police database.
The Home Office requires that their website can respond to search requests originating from central government websites such as Direct.gov - taking users straight to the relevant page in the site. They also require that the Derby Police make the information held on each Safer Neighbourhood Team available for re-use by other sites such as the new Police Crime Mapping service. It’s great to be a part of building the connections between these excellent resources.
It was important that the completed sites quickly established themselves as popular communications platforms with the complex set of user personas which all police forces need to consider.
The rationale for including a search facility which pulled back answers from the Ask the Police database was to reduce the number of non-emergency calls. However this is not a terrifically quantifiable goal; the reduction seen recently is difficult to attribute given the way the calls are classified and the large volume of calls received.
The most important (and crucially, measurable) KPI identified for the project was with regard to returning visitors - ensuring that web staff and contributors improved the amount of regular information so as to gain repeat visitors.“At a six-month-on point we were seeing a rise of around 15% in the figures for returning visitors, a pleasing result all round.“ - Ben Sherwin (Web Manager).
As with all of our many loyal clients, we look forward to a long and productive working relationship with Derbyshire Constabulary.
“Already I'm receiving early comments from the media about how impressed they are, and I strongly believe we've created a police website that's up there with the best in terms of features, design and all-round usability.“