In many regions, independent agency-specific dispatching centers direct police, firefighters and medical staff on the ground. Some coordination exists of course, but in practice task separation isolate public safety organizations inside silos, with a few gatekeepers to exchange information between agencies. As a result, coordination is hampered and limited to a few predefined scenarios. Personnel cannot easily share information.
On the ground, first responders’ communications equipment is often inadequate. Past investments have locked many agencies into legacy communications standards that were designed for voice only. To run today’s data-rich applications, first responders need to carry additional handsets that are disconnected from voice channels. This also makes it hard for them to call colleagues from other agencies, if their devices are incompatible.
Quick, accurate emergency decisions require the right information. But too often, data displayed on telecommunicators screens is either too sparse or inaccurate. And personnel on the ground may not even have screens at all. This causes everybody to spend precious time describing basic information such as location, rather than coordinating emergency responses efficiently and effectively.
Increasingly, regional and national public safety organizations adopt unified systems that cover multiple agencies, from police and firefighters to EMS. They are adapted to the specific confidentiality and information needs of each specialty. They make it easy to share information naturally and coordinate on the ground for fast and efficient resolution. These unified systems cover both applications and communications. As all public safety personnel use the same tools, or tools that are fully interoperable, this increases situation awareness and facilitates training, support and large-scale coordination.
Coordination is a human challenge – technology alone won’t solve it, but modern tools do make a difference. Smartphones, resilient private networks and IP-based infrastructure make it possible to reliably share data-rich mission information, with the usability that your personnel expect. No need to discard past investments in LMR/PMR – these handsets can be linked to 4G/5G networks with dispatcher modules. This way, the whole task force can talk with full mission recording.
Information can save lives, but it does not mean data overload. On the contrary, personnel can be presented with the right facts to take good decisions quickly. Accessing a wealth of geographical, video and sensor data requires applications that adapt to the user, in the PSAP as well as on the ground. From data-based policing to context-based alerting, flexible applications will integrate new features such as multimedia communications alerting for the foreseeable future.
By harnessing and using data from urban monitoring systems and open internet sources, cities can keep communities safe and secure. Information is critical to prepare law enforcement missions, considering such data as local context, current social media activity, and caller history. This includes preventive alerts that help categorize incidents and gain precious minutes to prevent situations from escalating.
Ease of use
To take critical decisions quickly, call takers and dispatchers need an intuitive presentation of the right elements when they need them the most. To prevent information overload, data hunting and over-manipulation, screens must be streamlined and provide the right data at the right time. And information must be shared automatically between stakeholders on an as-needed basis, between the PSAP and all first responders.
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