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Public Safety Must Evolve to Meet a Changing Public

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Public Safety organizations have to respond to changes in population growth and patterns in order to stay relevant, efficient, and effective. The last two years have seen huge changes in how we live and work, forcing police, fire, and city planners to reevaluate how they can use technology to better protect their communities. 

Real Time Traffic Management

The introduction of 5G and the continual integration of smart technology into vehicles holds incredible promise in understanding traffic patterns and becoming more proactive in preventing incidents. For example, technology developed by Purdue University’s Joint Transportation Research Program and the Indiana Department of Transportation can allow for traffic signals to be dynamically changed to prevent accidents. The Federal Highway Administration reports that traffic signals are prime locations for accidents, with more than two million crashes and 3,000 fatalities a year. 

The Purdue project installed wireless transmitters in vehicles that collect data to calculate the speed and trajectory of oncoming vehicles. They communicate that information to traffic signals which use embedded intelligence to adjust the time the light stays green or to change to a yellow light earlier than necessary. By embedding the technology in cars rather than the pavement, infrastructure costs are reduced. 

GIS Replaces Phone Number-based Location

Geospatial routing is replacing the standard Master Street Address Guide which is a tabular database connecting phone numbers to street addresses. Moving to GIS will allow dispatchers to share turn-by-turn directions and pinpoint callers on specific floors within buildings for responders. The use of GIS will increase as states move to Next Generation 911, the migration of 911 public safety answering points from analog to IP-based operations. GIS use will enable emergency response to better keep up with population growth and shifts in real time. 

Fighting Technology with Technology

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is looking for information on how to prevent unwanted robocalls from reaching emergency phone lines or “public safety answering points” (PSAPs). At best, these nuisance calls tie up a line or two, at worst, bad actors could use the auto dial technology to take down an entire contact center. The FCC is determining if technological advances resulted in more unwanted autodialed calls or if any recent blocking technologies could help PSAPs better protect themselves from calls and larger incidents.

Physical Security Needs Cybersecurity

The introduction of new technologies of course brings with it new risks. States and localities are attractive targets for cyber criminals and ransomware. While a lot can be done to harden applications against attacks, it’s not all about technology. It’s also about people.

Cybersecurity training specifically designed for emergency responders can ensure they understand the threats posed to their systems and mission with the addition of new technology. This training can include an outline of common threats — such as social engineering, physical attacks and access control, actionable tips for how front-line employees can reduce threats, and how to understand what IT teams are asking when it comes to vetting applications and tools for security.

GovWhitePapers has a wide variety of resources to help navigate the challenges and opportunities in modernizing public safety:

  • 2022 Public Safety Trends Report – Public safety is constantly changing. It is essential that public safety leadership identify strategies and tools to guide their agencies going forward. Discover six trends that will impact U.S. public safety in 2022, and key takeaways for community and first responder leaders.
  • Modeling Public Safety Communication Scenarios: School Shooting Incident – This document presents a fictional school shooting scenario involving a large number of responders, vehicles, and applications, over a 4-hour period. It describes in detail the location of the users, the type of applications used, and their usage patterns.
  • Developing Analysis, Modeling, and Simulation Tools for Connected and Automated Vehicle Applications – This report documents a simulation-based case study to investigate the effectiveness of automation technology for mitigating or solving existing transportation problems related to congestion, fuel consumption, and emissions. The study evaluated the effectiveness of three applications: cooperative adaptive cruise control, speed harmonization, and cooperative merge.
  •  Mobile Workforce Transportation – A school district’s bus drivers logged 65,000 miles per day, transporting thousands of students to and from school. In the past, dispatchers communicated with drivers via push-to-talk solutions. When its wireless provider eliminated the 2G network that supported push-to-talk, the district needed to find a solution that would keep students and drivers safe.

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