Our public safety organizations are full of people who are overworked and exhausted. Challenging environments can easily wear first responders down to a nub. Public opinion is harsh, and once easy, recruiting has become a slog.
Welcome to public safety in 2022. It’s not pretty.
But something is happening at the core of many public safety organizations that will make the job easier and reduce the risk to first responders in the field. The growth of cloud computing and other new tech brings Silicon Valley to Mayberry PD. And these changes will be some of the biggest we’ve seen yet.
First, let’s explore what’s currently holding back public safety organizations.
The Status Quo
Public safety leaders have traditionally used basic database programs and roster schedulers. Many HQs I visited still used outdated servers and software well into the 2010s.
The turn of the decade brought a new crop of software vendors, but it was over-complicated and difficult to manage. Why? Because the industry wanted what it was familiar with, and developers had to shoe-horn features and systems into new boxes.
To add insult to injury, public safety organizations are often underfunded and rarely run their own IT services (nor should they). Therefore, old, fixed, server-based systems – tools connected to a single computer in a back closet – persisted. When they break down, they are too hard and often too expensive to fix.
But here’s the problem: when you maintain the status quo, you are managing for disaster. A single breakdown can lead to a chain reaction that can keep first responders off the streets. Older systems can slow police and EMTs down to a snail’s pace and force officers to spend more time filling out forms than actual policing.
What’s the solution? Just as tech has disrupted nearly every industry, first responders are about to reap its benefits. Tech will make things faster and more efficient. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say tech will help save lives.
As public safety leaders, we have enough to worry about without worrying about tech. Let’s use cloud-native software solutions to move tech from a burden to an enabler of quick response, streamlined operations, strategic decision-making, and even incident prevention.
Here are four ways software will disrupt the industry this year and into the future.
- Tech helps decrease response times. The first thing cloud tech will do for public safety organizations is reduce response times. By connecting your first responders to a cloud server, they can get instant updates sent to multiple devices anywhere on the map. Further, new tech can route calls automatically, ensuring that the closest responder will be notified first. Gone are the days of “Car 54, Where are You?” These days, EMTs and police can get instant dispatch notices in seconds, not minutes. The result? Better, faster incident responses that take nearly every random factor into account.
- Tech keeps first responders connected. We need to keep officers and other security pros connected and intelligent wherever they are. Laptops in cars revolutionized this, but what happens when they’re on foot, away from the vehicle? Too many first responders have been conditioned not to use mobile, but with the rise of cheap, always-on devices, they can receive up-to-date information without relying on an in-car system. Imagine a situation where your first responders can receive and react to real-time information in the field. You get a clear picture of why this tech is vital.
- Tech keeps first responders on the road. An arrest can take an officer off the road for four hours or more, thanks to legacy systems that use slow input methods. This means that some arrests are avoided entirely because of their logistical challenge. It’s, in short, dangerous. cloud-native tech fixes this by reducing documentation times to 30 minutes or fewer. Further, these systems allow for on-the-road management, which means you can drop a suspect off and then hit the road immediately, leaving a partner in the car to work through the details. The rule of thumb is that you want an officer sighting every 20 minutes in high-crime areas. It’s impossible to maintain that with legacy software and staffing issues. Cloud-native tech can help you turn the tables on crime.
4. Tech offers real-time analytics. Older systems like CompStat delivered some statistical tracking, but it was often out of date by the time it was analyzed and processed. For example, you could uncover neighborhood crime trends monthly or weekly. Now, you can access them instantly. Thanks to cloud analysis, trouble spots show up sooner on your map and you can staff accordingly, moving officers from low crime areas to new hotspots. The cloud-native systems can even run complex reports that allow you to hire and staff depending on real data, not just guesstimates. They become a holistic management system that understands every nuance of your city or town.
Cloud-native software is going to define the future of law enforcement. Your mission as a leader is to understand it, budget for it, and work on training your first responders in how to use it in the field. But here’s the catch: the new systems are simpler, faster, and more powerful than anything they’ve used. And the primary benefits are instantly apparent.
Rather than looking at the world through the cracked windshield of legacy software, it’s time to get a bird’s-eye view of the problems you and your responders face … and use technology to get ahead of them.