Cities Must Base Public-Private Partnerships on Needs and Projected Goals

Dwindling public safety budgets force cities to adapt to the new reality of shared resources

The proliferation of sensor data, connectivity, and analytics is expanding city public safety and security capabilities. Greater system integration is enhancing situational awareness, but requires around-the-clock monitoring. Faster network speeds and cloud infrastructures are improving command and control, but pushing responders to their limit. How can cities leverage advancing security technologies when faced with public safety personnel shortages?


Public-Private Partnerships: Why and What

There is no indication the chronic shortage of public safety personnel will reverse any time soon. In contrast, the security industry continues to find new ways to adapt general technology advances to improve public safety and security capabilities. Cities facing the point of diminishing return -- when their public safety resource capacity prevents them from making full use of their security technology capabilities--need to consider public- private partnerships.

Public-private partnerships (P3s or PPPs) have no single definition. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) views them as relationships built on partner needs, capabilities, and two-way communication. The National Council for Public Private Partnerships (NCPPP) refers to them as contractual arrangements in which resources and capabilities are shared. InfraGard, an FBI-sponsored partnership, originally focused on cybersecurity, constitutes an association of representatives from the public and private sectors; and for the Law Enforcement-Private Security Consortium, public private partnerships are either organized efforts with institutional support and written agreements, or informal collaborations.


Public-Private Partnerships: Best Practices and Models

Instead of finding the most applicable public- private partnership based on definition, cities should focus on identifying models of similar public safety and security partnerships and best practices for partnership success. According to FEMA, a partnership must be publicly accessible, dedicated, resourced, engaged, and sustainable (PADRES). NCPPP’s seven keys to successful public- private partnerships echo the importance of a dedicated team and stakeholder support, in addition to the need for a partnership leader and a formal plan as key best practices. For InfraGard, collaboration and communication is key, which the Law Enforcement-Private Security Consortium agrees with, adding a compelling mission determines the success of a partnership.


Public-Private Partnerships: How to for Cities

Cities considering public private partnerships should appoint a champion or create a staff function, designate an agency, or form a group dedicated to partnership development. However approached, stakeholder participation will ensure organizational buy-in of the partnership plan, governance framework, and supporting administration scheme. Governance oversight will ensure there is city-wide agreement on standards for assessing the value of potential partnerships, monitoring ongoing performance, and establishing the city’s own best practices and partnership models.

Cities should assess existing collaborative efforts with private sector organizations to validate whether they constitute partnerships, should evolve into partnerships, or be terminated if no longer needed. This will prove difficult as the most informal partnerships for purposes unrelated to public safety and security could be the ones with potentially the most value.

Ultimately, as FEMA points out, public-private partnerships may not always be the best approach for every situation; however, two-way communication may accomplish the same purpose, with one organization making its capabilities available without expecting reciprocity.


Unique Needs and Expectations: Model Adaption

Recognizing the importance of public- private partnerships to its mission, and through continuous application of lessons learned, FEMA serves as the most authoritative source of information on partnerships between public and private organizations of all types, sizes, geographical locations, industries, and functions.

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