In this paper we use activity theory to illuminate our understanding of the emergence of an innovation (mobile data) in one police constabulary. In particular, we focus our efforts on the salient developments of the innovation and relationships formed with IT suppliers and government bodies. The case study provides an instructive example of the innovation process and a presents a number of interesting findings. The analysis showed that the innovation process can be described as a shared activity and the innovation itself as modular. Along these lines, the innovation activity demonstrated the case of open innovation in a policing context and identified the importance and concerns surrounding central body intervention.