Four ways technology will change public safety in 2023

Our public safety organizations are full of overworked and exhausted people. Harsh environments can easily exhaust first responders. Public opinion is tough and once easy, recruiting has become a chore.

Welcome to public safety in 2022. It’s not pretty.

But something is happening at the heart of many public safety organizations that will make the job easier and reduce the risk for first responders in the field. The growth of cloud computing and other new technologies is bringing Silicon Valley to Mayberry PD. And these changes will be some of the biggest we’ve seen to date.

First, let’s explore what is currently holding public safety organizations back.

The status quo

Public safety officials have traditionally used basic database programs and list schedulers. Many HQs I visited were still using outdated servers and software well into the 2010s.

The turn of the decade brought a new breed of software vendors, but it was too complicated and difficult to manage. Why? Because the industry wanted what it knew and developers had to squeeze shoehorn features and systems into new boxes.

To add insult to injury, public safety organizations are often underfunded and rarely run their own IT departments (nor should they). As a result, the old, fixed, server-based systems—tools hooked up to a single computer in a back closet—persisted. When they break down, they are too hard and often too expensive to repair.

This creates a perfect storm in many public safety organizations where the status quo is, simply put, fear. Many managers are afraid to tamper with their systems if something they can’t fix breaks down. They avoid at all costs destroying their annual budget with unforeseen IT expenses.

But here’s the thing: when you maintain the status quo, you deal with disaster. A single failure can cause a chain reaction that can prevent first responders from moving. Older systems can slow police and paramedics to a snail’s pace and force officers to spend more time filling out forms than doing policing.

What is the solution ? Just as technology has disrupted nearly every industry, first responders are poised to reap its rewards. Technology will make things faster and more efficient. It would not be an exaggeration to say that technology will help save lives.

Disruption now

As public safety leaders, we have enough to worry about without worrying about technology. Let’s use cloud-native software solutions to transform technology from a burden to an enabler for rapid response, streamlined operations, strategic decision-making, and even incident prevention.

Here are four ways software will disrupt the industry this year and beyond.

  1. Technology helps reduce response times. The first thing cloud technology 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. Plus, the new technology can route calls automatically, ensuring the nearest answering machine will be notified first. The era of “Car 54, where are you?” is over. Today, paramedics and police can get instant dispatch notifications in seconds, not minutes. The result? Better and faster incident responses that account for almost all random factors.
  2. Tech keeps first responders connected. We need to keep officers and other security professionals connected and smart wherever they are. Laptops in cars have 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 depending on an on-board 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 technology is vital.
  3. Tech keeps first responders on the road. An arrest can keep a traffic officer off the road for four hours or more, thanks to legacy systems that use slow entry methods. This means that some arrests are avoided entirely due to their logistical challenge. It is, in short, dangerous. loud-native technology solves this problem by reducing documentation times to 30 minutes or less. Plus, these systems allow for on-the-road management, meaning you can drop off a suspect and then hit the road immediately, leaving a partner in the car to sort out the details. The rule of thumb is that you want an officer to observe every 20 minutes in high crime areas. It’s impossible to maintain this with legacy software and staffing issues. Cloud-native technology can help turn the tide on crime.

4. Tech offers real-time analytics. Older systems like CompStat provided statistical tracking, but it was often outdated by the time it was analyzed and processed. For example, you can discover neighborhood crime trends monthly or weekly. Now you can access it instantly. With cloud analytics, hotspots appear earlier on your map and you can assign staff accordingly, moving officers from low-crime areas to new hotspots. Cloud-native systems can even run complex reports that let you hire and staff based on real data, not just estimates. They become a holistic management system that understands every nuance of your city or town.

Cloud-native software will define the future of law enforcement. Your mission as a leader is to understand it, budget for it, and work to train your first responders on 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 main advantages are immediately apparent.

Rather than looking at the world through the cracked windshield of legacy software, it’s time to see the big picture of the issues you and your stakeholders face…and use technology to get ahead of them.

About the Author: Nick Stohlman is the CCO of SOMA Global, responsible for generating all revenue and maintaining client relationships. Nick has had the pleasure of serving in public safety at the private, local, state and federal levels for over 21 years. During his career, he has held positions as a Special Agent in Drug Enforcement, Chief Investigator, Chief Deputy Sheriff, Federal and State Task Forces. In the private sector, Nick has held executive positions and VP of Sales and Marketing roles for Alert Public Safety Solutions, InterAct Public Safety Systems and Smart Public Safety Systems. He has managed the sales process for two-user system agencies from a local township to county, major metro, state, federal and overseas projects. Nick feels compelled to provide all public safety agencies with the latest technological tools in order to increase officer safety and improve the well-being of the citizens they serve.