Essential Information Only: The Paradigm of Converged Emergency Systems

When situations arise and timing is critical, first responders can’t be delayed by a flood of information when they just need the facts

In the midst of all the hustle and bustle that was Day 2 on the ASIS tradeshow floor, I found myself having a good time. Sure, keeping a tight schedule at the show can be hectic at times, but it's also fun to be in such an energetic environment. However, that being said, I did begin to wonder if there were somehow an easier way to get all of the information I'm looking for at the show. Is it possible for me to better filter out all the extra info and just get to what I need? Interestingly enough, security personnel who are responsible for responding to emergency situations also want to be able to better access and monitor information without it being "information overload." Lucky for them, many companies are aiming to meet this demand.

One trend I've noticed is that security software applications are doing a better job of integrating many elements onto one display. The goal here seems to be to provide security personnel the ability to see more useful information on one screen in an easy-to-use manner. Many integrated systems are headed in this direction and it's enough to make you wonder how people ever managed without it.

Not only are systems being integrated to better communicate with each other, but all of their combined information needs to be accessed in a simple, readable manner. By making clever use of graphical displays, and in some cases touchscreens, security personnel will be able to have improved command and control over both routine and emergency situations. Take these two companies’ products as perfect examples:

- Notifier's Onyx FirstVision, which was designed in part with input from senior firefighters, is a system interface which can hang in the lobby of a hotel or other type of building, explained Peter Ebersold, the company’s director of marketing. A map of the whole building can be displayed with information about where the fire is located, how it is spreading, and how long it has been burning. The FirstVision has a touchscreen with a very simple user interface. In fact, many features to the system were taken out in order to better meet the needs of firefighters responding in an emergency. When a fire is roaring, firefighters don't want every last bell and whistle possible, they just want access to critical information--and fast. (Notifier is also working to get a wireless version of FirstVision which could be installed in fire trucks so they could scope out the building en route to the scene.)

- Over at the Orsus booth, Rafi Bhonker spoke to me about the Situator, which is their new situation management software. Their software can map a large area, such as a seaport or college campus, and then list critical emergency responses or vulnerability points (such as HAZMAT, medical facilities, police, fire, etc.) When an event occurs, its location can be pinpointed and pre-programmed notification responses can go into effect.

Again the rule of these integrated platforms is that it doesn’t make sense for the end-user to have to dig to get the information he or she needs. When a situation arises, making time of the essence, the security staff and the first responders need to be able to get the essential information, without having to wade through the oceans of information they don’t want or need.