We can generally all agree that technology is a good thing when used properly. As applied to public safety uses, technology has greatly transformed the ability for police, fire, EMT and other first responders to respond faster, come prepared with the right resources, deliver on the core missions of protection and service, and maintain safety while at the same time allowing those of us who are not first responders to go about our lives with greater freedom and confidence. The use of technology is also increasing community engagement and has allowed organizations to leverage the public to assist and enhance public safety.

What are some key technology trends that are transforming public safety?
There are a number of key technology trends–some having been around for a while and others now on the horizon–that will revolutionize how public safety is maintained and delivered.

Key Technology Trends

  • Enhanced communications
  • Cloud connectivity
  • Big data analytics
  • Ubiquitous video and audio
  • Next-generation 9-1-1/112 (NG9-1-1/112) for PSAPs
  • Virtual reality/artificial intelligence

Enhanced Communication
The creation of the FirstNet program in 2012 provided a dedicated, ubiquitous, high-speed and reliable communications network for public safety personnel, and laid down the backbone for new cloud-based capabilities in the field. Using this communication capability allows our police, fire, EMT and other first responders to obtain and share critical and timely information at the time and place of need, enhancing coordinated responses to emergencies.

Cloud Connectivity
Access to the cloud by field personnel provides needed information from the cloud to the field regarding driver, vehicle and criminal records, warrants, missing person descriptions, etc., but also allows for the sharing of on-scene information back up to the cloud for use by other groups jointly delivering on public safety. This results in the right resources being able to get to the right places as rapidly as possible. Access to record-based information is essential to help keep dangerous drivers and vehicles off the road, to assist in the recovery of stolen property or missing persons, and even to help reduce environmental impacts of spilled chemicals or vehicles that haven’t passed emissions tests. Going the other way, the creation of activity and incident reports–as well as sharing of witness statements and contact information, images and video from on-scene–are all now possible.

Big Data Analytics
In addition to providing access to cloud-based information, a new trend is to provide big data analytics capabilities out to the field from the cloud. With an ever-increasing amount of information and raw data for field personnel to quickly make sense of, analyze and act upon, anything that can help make those actions the correct ones becomes critical.

How do you make sense of all this information and make the change from public safety efforts going from reactive to proactive? The use of big data analytics to aggregate, normalize and visualize incoming data (that is then analyzed for patterns and anomalies) greatly assists responding field personnel and, later, investigative personnel. The use of analytics to ensure that services are provided in a timely, consistent and equal manner is a trend that has been adopted by over 40% of public safety organizations nationwide.

Ubiquitous Video and Audio
Video and audio technologies of all kinds have moved to the forefront of public safety, documenting interactions and improving personnel safety. Fixed location microphones detect gunshots and light post cameras help control traffic, as well as document accidents and crimes against people and property. Vehicle-based devices document traffic stops, and body-worn units provide an in-person POV to document interactions with suspects and victims. Similar units enhance personnel safety during fires or other emergencies, and the integration of home security systems such as smart doorbells assists in response to calls and investigation of incidents. Remotely piloted vehicles of all kinds are now equipped with video and other sensors to gather situational data, enter buildings to gather explosive devices, or assist during terrorist, weather or building fire events.

Next Generation 9-1-1/112 (NG9-1-1/112) for PSAPs
Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) are the critical call centers where incoming requests for assistance are received. Social media, mobile messaging and other technologies are making the old phone call-centric approach of dispatching public safety personnel less effective. Next Generation 9-1-1/112 adds the ability for PSAPs to provide enhanced data services to responding units and support next-generation data types such as message services, images and streaming video. In addition, these NG9-1-1/112 PSAPs will be able to receive information from third-party sources such as alarm systems, vehicle telematics systems, the video sources listed above, intelligent roadway systems, medical records and IoT networks.

Virtual Reality/Artificial Intelligence
Lastly, the use of virtual reality and artificial intelligence to provide enhanced public safety services is already deployed in some cases. VR concepts of overlaying video with sensors and cloud-based data improve the ability of firefighters and searchers to find and rescue people trapped in buildings or other environments where visibility is essentially zero. Real-time image processing techniques using AI will assist first responders in the identification of people, determining if a suspect is armed or other split-second-type determinations that need to be consistent and correct.

How are in-vehicle technologies transforming public safety?
Most of the new technology trends in public safety are being deployed for in-vehicle use, which allows our first responders to improve services and achieve better outcomes across the board.

  • Communication improvements are resulting in increased responsiveness and getting the right resources to the right place.
  • Cloud-based record access is helping identify victims, criminals and stolen property, while also providing needed medical record information to critically ill or injured persons.
  • Ubiquitous video and audio provide for increased transparency in policing and public communication.
  • Big data analytics and VR/AI facilitate faster, better decision making in difficult environments.
  • Improved personnel safety and better outcomes result in higher job satisfaction for officers.

Why Start with Sierra for Public Safety?

  • Sierra Wireless has over 20 years of proven experience in public safety and is the market leader in cellular embedded modules, routers and gateways for public safety.
  • 3 out of 4 high-performance EMS fleets in North America use AirLink networking solutions from Sierra Wireless.
  • Sierra Wireless has deployed over 3 million routers and gateways worldwide, and more than half of the top 100 police agencies use AirLink routers.
  • “Activate where you buy”: As a value-added distributor of Sierra Wireless IoT Solutions, GetWireless simplifies the procurement of cellular hardware and connectivity services. As a single source offering hardware, activations and professional services, we streamline the process for our partners to get connected to the network.

Why Partner with GetWireless and Sierra Wireless?
Together with Sierra Wireless, GetWireless offers a global channel ecosystem designed to help our resale partners drive incremental revenue by offering leading IoT products, a robust partner program and an easy partnership that provides tools to grow your business. Our channel program fuels collaborative growth, together with our partners. Our services are composed of decades of experience working exclusively with channel partners in the IoT, mobility, in-building connectivity, fleet tracking, and many wireless markets.

Available services include:

  • Pre- and post-sales support from certified sales and technical teams, as well as training opportunities to enable your sales and technical teams
  • Deal registration and sales collaboration to generate margin, protect the price and drive effective sales cycles
  • Collaborative demand creation and marketing services in addition to a wide selection of professional services
  • Comprehensive inventory with strong logistics management for market-leading IoT solutions consisting of hardware, software and device management
  • Sample and demonstration programs

GetWireless offers the solutions, tools and support to enable you and your customers to succeed in public safety. Contact us to learn more or to speak to one of our IoT experts today.

About The Author

David Smith

David Smith

VP of IoT Solutions

Dave Smith is the Vice President of IoT solutions with responsibility for technical advisement and thought leadership around products, solutions, and services; both inside and outside of the GetWireless portfolio. Dave is a tenured information technology professional skilled in LPWAN, IoT, Wireless Technologies, Telecommunications, Software Development, Testing, and Embedded Systems. David began his career at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and prior to joining GetWireless served as CTO and Director for two Innovative IT and IoT hardware manufacturer’s in the Twin Cities area.