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Sun 13 Jan 2008 04:00 AM

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Internal affairs

Overwhelmed by support calls, Dubai Police has revamped its support system to provide remote support.

Talk to most system administrators and they would generally name support as the biggest consumer of their time. For them, monitoring several hundred desks can be a challenge.

Technical resources department manager Captain Adnan Ali Mohammed Ali and his four-man team, however, have a far more arduous task, having to administer more than 3000 users covering a total of 30 police stations across Dubai.

When the technician saw the problem – after taking perhaps one hour to reach there – it might take five or ten minutes or two to three hours to resolve. Now with CA Unicenter and Remote Control, he can remotely manage everything from here

To deal with this issue, Dubai Police has recently implemented a range of CA systems at its General Headquarters to simplify IT management and improve response times for technical support.

According to Ali, the implementation, which took one year to complete, was driven by a need to improve technical support. Previously, when a support call was made from a station - which depending on the location, could be as far away as Hatta or Jebel Ali - a technician had to personally drive out from the headquarters and attend to the problem. Apart from the fact that this tied up staff and vehicles, it was often difficult to detect the magnitude of the problem.

"When the technician saw the problem - after taking perhaps one hour to reach there - it might take five or ten minutes or two to three hours to resolve. Now with CA Unicenter and Remote Control, he can sit and remotely manage everything from here. He only has to go out if there is a hardware problem, but this is not often," says Ali.

Ali discusses the key drivers behind the implementation: "We take pride in being the most forward thinking and progressive Arab police force today, and coping with technological advances is the key. One of the General Department of e-Services' most important tasks is supervising all technical equipment in the possession of the force - computers, software and networks - so that technology helps our people do their jobs more efficiently. It is not only a cost issue, it is a time issue.

He adds that these drivers originated in his e-Services department: "Dubai Police has a culture of striving to be progressive in all areas, which of course includes choosing the best information technology to be employed by the force. This mindset is ingrained in every department, including the Department of e-Services, where we are always seeking ways to improve the levels of service we can provide to our force in the field and also at our headquarters, by increasing responsiveness and operating more efficiently.

Before embarking on the project with CA, Dubai Police reviewed a number of proposals from a number of vendors including IBM Tivoli, and considered a variety of factors, including the product specifications and the time and cost required for implementation. Ali and his team also had a specific set of requirements in mind, including the ability to conduct accurate inventory, automate software distribution to all the outlying desks and conduct technical support via remote control.
"Comparing these, we found that CA's solutions were the best fit for Dubai Police - they have the right functionality and the right price. We liked their approach to deployment and felt that it would be a good fit in terms of the teams working together. Once we had chosen CA, more specific details were taken care of during the planning phase before deployment," states Adnan.

"When it comes to a software vendor, technology is not the only important factor. It is also the people. Responsiveness, support and teamwork are critical for us in making the relationship with a vendor successful. With CA, we had those," adds Colonel Ahmad Hamdan Bin Dalmook, the director of electronic services.

For Ali, the return on investment is clear: "We've reduced the number of technicians from 15 to six. We reduced the number of cars we have to provide for those technicians from about a dozen to four. We can do things centrally and do not need to deploy technicians out into the field - a lot of time was wasted travelling long distances to solve a small problem which can now be taken care of centrally.

"Tasks that used to take several hours can be done in several minutes. Tasks that used to take several days - like inventorying hardware assets - can now be done in three or four hours," he adds.

In the new system, CA's Desktop Management Suite is implemented across Dubai Police offices, covering close to 3000 desktops primarily to automate the software delivery process, collection of inventory and remote control for troubleshooting purposes. The scalable architecture also takes into account the fact that the desktops are expected to grow to 4000 in number soon.

Another key feature of the new system is asset intelligence, which can provide management with instant analysis on key factors in the Dubai Police environment. The available dashboard extracts raw data from the asset management system and provides analytics to pinpoint areas of concern, while also enabling a wide range of business decisions such as optimising the lifecycle of IT assets, change planning, cost reduction through standardisation, and quickly performing budgeting and vendor analysis.

The planning and costing stages took six months, with the implementation concluding in March of 2006. Though the installation posed no direct challenges, Ali discovered that the existing server was not powerful enough for the additional load and has to be replaced.

Now that his team and the users have gained sufficient experience with the CA systems, Ali has additional plans in store.

"The major issue is that we have to upgrade with an additional module - the service desk, which will help us a great deal. Presently, we don't have a call centre or any service desk software, so users have to contact us directly for support. Once we integrate this into the system, we can receive and troubleshoot any problems directly from here with the CA service desk. We plan to implement this next year," he concludes.

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