Improving Emergency Response
Outreach, communication in 2021 will come through practical advanced technologies
- By Ralph Diment
- Dec 02, 2020
Smart cities will need to grapple with the ongoing
effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 while
responding to natural disasters, such as the California
wildfires and everyday emergencies. One development
that will help municipalities in this regard
is the increased use of Internet of Things (IoT) networks, According
to Deloitte, there are almost 20 billion IoT devices in the world.
The most critical outlet for this technology is public safety,
which requires precise, timely data about events, so agencies can
respond quickly, safely and effectively. Smart cities that harness
resilient tools can move society forward in the coming year.
THE POWER OF DATA
Emergency services will improve their outreach and
communication with the public in 2021 through practical advanced
technologies. Concerned citizens can contact emergency services
using text, social media and mobile apps. Dispatchers can precisely
locate callers in an instant via their smartphone’s advanced mobile
location (AML) capability and use photos or videos of the scene
to inform decisions and update responders. Connected navigation
systems then map out the fastest and safest routes to the scene.
Intelligent traffic signals can even ensure their routes are clear. All
these real-time innovations will help save lives.
The use of advanced analytics in public safety has lagged that
of business and even other areas of public service, but it is rapidly
catching up. Analysis of operational data is helping to improve
service and staff well-being by aligning resources and balancing
workloads to reflect patterns in demand. Advanced analytics
are also helping emergency response with Artificial Intelligence
(AI) and machine learning providing continuous autonomous
assessment of the data flowing through emergency call centers.
If a pattern or anomaly is detected, dispatchers will be alerted
of developing situations, so they can intervene sooner to contain
issues, and even prevent some tragedies.
Through this multi-tiered approach, emergency responders
can leverage data to perform life-saving work more effectively. To
truly succeed, however, they will need help from every department.
COLLABORATION IS THE KEY
Our daily lives rely on infrastructure and services provided by
a range of independent organizations, with each using different
systems, processes and assets. But smart cities are beginning to
build shared awareness and coordination across those functions
through a network of digital technologies.
As part of this process, departments with siloed – or even
conflicting – information and procedures need to come together
to make day-to-day operations more efficient and effective, but
also to mitigate crises because these events disrupt essential
functions and have dire consequences. For example, the Paris
terrorist attacks (2017) caused severe economic damage to the city long after the initial tragedy. Many tourists canceled vacation
plans, business travel decreased and residents reduced spending.
Every municipality is different, so it is impossible to
understand all the challenges teams face, whether responding to
such large incidents, adapting to home working or increasingly
frequent extreme weather events. But cities where departments
work together prove more resilient by being able to identify issues
sooner and take more effective action.
As part of this effort, all municipal agencies need to prioritize
digital transformation this year. They should connect disparate data
sources while advancing the vital services that underpin society.
Public safety departments are an essential part of this mission.
Technology is improving how they respond, but they cannot
create wholesale change without coordinating with agencies like
social services, utilities and transportation. Removing barriers
will make government work better, whether collaborating for
more effective emergency response or pooling information to
better understand issues and prioritize resources.
A holistic, evidence-based approach also benefits the broader
community because citizens who understand the needs and issues
behind a policy will be more confident in municipal agencies
and more likely to support safety initiatives. Therefore, these
departments need to involve the public in all matters, from
budgets to the use of technology and post-event reviews. Once
agencies have strong local support, the final step is convincing
leaders to invest this year and beyond.
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
Seconds count during emergencies, and new technologies help
reduce the impacts of serious incidents; however, they can have
a high price tag. As a result, municipalities need to analyze what
each proposal costs before opening their checkbooks. City officials
should understand the risks and rewards of assistive technologies,
along with the regulatory environments in their respective areas.
Tools that serve multiple purposes for multiple organizations
will pay the most significant dividends. But, just like siloed IT,
separate budgets and organizational objectives can also stand
in the way. Since the advantages far outweigh the drawbacks,
industry leaders in smart cities need to reevaluate their annual
funding models and spread the wealth across organizations. They
should encourage and facilitate investments that offer broad
positive long-term impacts.
Smart cities will need access to data-rich technologies to
improve service, safety, and resilience in 2021. Intelligent leaders
in smart cities should look to enable departments to coordinate
information and action by removing silos
across municipal agencies and spending
intelligently. That way, they will enhance the
community’s quality of life for years to come.
This article originally appeared in the November / December 2020 issue of Security Today.