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Australian Police want in-house social network

Let’s call it “Pintarrest”, shall we?

The Police Force in the Australian state of New South Wales wants to build its very own social network.

The Force isn’t just bandwagon-hopping: the tender (registration required) for the network says it’s already done that, with decent results:

The organisation’s ITC department, Business and Technology Services (BTS) recently ran a short-term trial of an Innovation Forum to the intranet, allowing people to comment and vote on ideas put forward by any staff member.

Without any internal communication or promotion, the Innovation Forum was heavily subscribed. There is strong potential for the healthy adoption of an internal social network by NSW Police Force staff.

But there’s strong potential for the project to crash and burn, too, because the Force has exactly $0 for the project and knows training will be tough, as stated in the tender:

We have a large number of staff who are dispersed across a large geographical area. Training staff in new IT platforms is challenging and can be expensive. We therefore seek a platform that is easy to use, self educating and innovative. Good quality inbuilt tutorials/tours would be of interest.

At this point we imagine sharp-eyed Reg readers may have noted that this appears to be a project with huge scope and ambitions, limited budgets and known factors that could undermine success. In other words, a train wreck waiting to happen.

We offer that assessment before addressing the long list of objectives for the project, which include a desire to communicate and drive corporate strategies, reduce information silos, promote internal networking, “allow ideas and innovation to be put forward, discussed and voted on by all staff” and also “Provide wikis and shared apps to increase speed of project management and documentation.”

A reduction in travel between offices is also a hoped-for outcome, as is a desire to enable the creation of virtual teams “across geographical barriers”.

A comprehensive online phone book is also on the agenda.

Interestingly, the tender doesn’t rule out hosting the network beyond the Force’s walls, stating that “We are still considering the merits of using a networking platform beyond the organisation.”

Throw in the fact that the Force wants very strong security – the tender says “Audit trail, authentication and support for encrypted network communications are considered baseline requirements” – and this looks like what we imagine Police might call “a very complex operational requirement that ultimately proved beyond the capacity of the organisation to achieve effectively in the desired timeframe". We do hope we’re proved wrong. ®

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