Olympics 2012 and after: London gets an effective policing tool

Olympics 2012 and after: London gets an effective policing tool


The London Metropolitan Police’s geo-enabled system for safe and secure conduct of 2012 Olympics will continue to be an effective policing tool in the delivery of public safety and security in the city

The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics left an admirable legacy for London and UK — a fantastic stadium and park, improved transportation and local recreation. For the Metropolitan Police Services (MPS) London, one of the far-reaching gains was a new generation of public safety and emergency system powered by geospatial technology.

With a vision to host an inspirational, safe and inclusive Games, MPS embarked on developing a new generation system in 2008. The MPS and the Home Office jointly funded and commissioned a new GI Programme in 2010 to deliver the state-of-the-art technology for public safety and emergency services.

The objectives of the GI /Mapping project, under the Olympic Safety and Security Programme, was to deliver the toolsets which mitigate the threats from terrorism; public disorder and serious crime together with the delivery of a Common Operating Picture that was required to meet the requirements of the Games’ stakeholders and UK security forces. The biggest challenges for the delivery of the project were an immovable deadline, a limited budget and maintaining quality.

G-tech to the rescue
In May 2011, the MPS Contract Board awarded a 4-year contract to Astrium/Infoterra for the implementation, hosting and management of the MPS and Olympic geospatial services / technology through the GI Programme.

The Olympic portal was delivered by Astrium and the MPS’s GIS team in less than 10 months after the contract was signed. The majority of the functionality was delivered in time for the London 2012 Olympics and the MPS GI Programme is now nearing completion to provide full MetMaP solution (corporate Web Mapping Portal, applets and GI services). The MPS GI Programme delivered:

  • Spatial Data Infrastructure with ETL tools
  • Web Services (SOA, WMS, WFS, Routing, Gazetteer, Rest, Transformation, API, Live Feed Business Data, etc.)
  • MetMaP – Geospatial Platform
  • Web Mapping Portal
  • Applets for customising functions required for operational policing

MetMaP is a secure Web browser-based mapping portal, together with a coherent set of geographical information, available across both the MPS network and the wider UK Police network connection. It served as a single point of access to information about any Olympic or Paralympics venue or event, delivering transparency and common mapping standards across a large number of police forces. MetMaP offers a variety of toolsets which are used to display, analyse and manipulate geographic data layers collected by the government led Olympic Data Production Group.

The portal was successfully utilised across the London 2012 Olympic stakeholders for operational planning, location awareness, briefing / debriefing and post event analysis.

The portal also provides a collaborative environment that allows users to share situational awareness in real time. The user is able to invite team members within different locations to share a live portal session during an operation. An instant messaging service allows users to converse during a session.

All geospatial datasets held within the portal are governed by the MPS GI team to ensure high standards of data quality, serving as a single source of verified geographic information across Olympic and MPS business functions.

A collage of photos from the ASIGN server

The Olympic data collection
Geographic information for the MPS GI Programme was collected by various government agencies together with MPS business functions and was shared with all other stakeholders. The Ordinance Survey (UK), Ministry of Defence (UK), National Geographic Intelligence Agency (NGA –USA), London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), Transport for London, and other government agencies played a vital role in collecting data. The interoperable character of MetMaP assisted in reducing resource cost for data capture.

Key technical challenges
The most critical part of building the MPS platform was to establish a technology vision (Target Reference Architecture) which could support all business requirements, now and in the future, with specific security requirements. The Information System Architecture was also a challenge as it was required to support interoperability within MPS business functions and multi-agency environments.

Meeting the non-functional requirements was a challenging task, as it is required to support a huge user base (currently around 5,000) and to meet the user’s expectations in performance, reliability and availability.

Operational benefits
The collaborative GI / Mapping portal allows police officers access to geospatial information from an integrated and consolidated single source. This will reduce the time spent on repetitive processes of data geocoding and on searching through disparate (silo) information sets. The business data can now be visualised on a map.

This serves as a ‘single stop-shop’ for the current view of a borough, or any specific command unit. In the future, the new applets will enable sharing of information amongst all boroughs and different MPS functions in real time and will support the common operating picture together with situational awareness. After ensuring safe and secure conduct of the Olympic Games in 2012, MetMaP platform, with new geospatial applets, will soon become a major policing tool in the delivery of public safety and security on a daily basis.