Coordinating Emergency Communications

Coordinating Emergency Communications

How IoT can drive efficiency and response

One of the many lessons learned from the Smart Cities movement is that you can achieve significant improvement in community safety and resilience when you use network technologies to facilitate communications and data sharing. Information gets to responders more quickly and comprehensively which leads to more streamlined processes and better decision making in the field.

When walking through a modern Real Time Crime Center (RTCC), it is easy to become fixated on the huge video walls, workstations with elaborate dashboards, and images streaming into the center from cameras across the city. But the real value of these centers is not the eye-catching displays, it is the aggregation and efficient sharing of data with multiple stakeholders.

The data sources collected into the RTCC are not limited to cameras. You will also find information streaming in from other devices like license plate readers alerting when a registered stolen vehicle is detected, radar triggering notification of illegal trash dumping, and audio sensors detecting the discharge from a firearm.

All these data sources help operators in the center focus on areas where conditions indicate a likely negative outcome for the community. There are dynamic mapping applications assisting operators in geolocating events, technology assets and personnel in the field. The center might even be using analytics based on artificial intelligence to help compile raw data and quickly push critical information to responders.

The goal is to gather the most complete picture possible of what is happening on the streets of the city, so responders can work smarter – planning strategies on the way to a scene so they can perform more effectively once they arrive.

“Aggregating all this technology into one system is an exceptional force multiplier. We’ve learned that the more situational awareness we can get to our responders the better for everyone,” said George Brown, IT/COMMS manager for the New Orleans Real Time Crime Center.

REDUCING REDUNDANCY WITH STREAMLINED WORKFLOW PROCESSES

This new operating model is a sharp contrast to how 911 calls were managed in the past. Previously, when a 911 call came into the Public Safety Access Point (PSAP), the operator would pass the call on to a dispatcher who would send an appropriate responder – police, fire or medical – to the caller’s location. The information that reached the responder seldom contained more detail than the basic nature of the call. The inability to move data consistently throughout each step created knowledge gaps, requiring responders to recollect data that was previously provided, but not transferred. With an RTCC solution, much of this redundant activity is eliminated.

Smart city solutions are built on scalable, open-standards platforms which allows them to accept data directly from other open standards sources. With all data streaming into a single information repository, these solutions reduce redundant data collection and entry. Authorized users do not need to log in and out of multiple systems to input and access critical information.

They can pull up camera views, map overlays, analytics, and other applications all on a unified screen -- a significant time saver. Equally important, they can push critical situational information and visuals to responders’ mobile devices before they arrive on the scene and provide ongoing details as more information streams into the command center.

By leveraging all their technologies to create a logical and consistent workflow for emergency response, smart cities can maximize the value of data, drive departmental efficiencies and allow cross-departmental collaboration which ultimately leads to a safer community.

With a large repository of data and analytic tools at their fingertips, agencies can also accelerate the detection of patterns that previously might have gone unnoticed.

When asked about the Hartford Capital City Command Center (C4), Johnmichael O’Hare, a former member of the Hartford Police Department, said, “While we initially focused on solving crime, we’re also finding that our smart city solution can help us recognize areas of the city that might benefit from reengineering.” Some of those discoveries have ultimately led to footbridges being constructed over busy roads and new lanes designated for bicycles along certain corridors.

SAVING LIVES WITH NATURAL DISASTER WARNINGS

This comprehensive approach to collecting and optimizing data is especially valuable when it comes to community resilience in the face of natural disasters. In those situations, timely alerts and rapid reaction often translate into lives saved.

That is why cities prone to flooding, hazardous road conditions, earthquakes and other catastrophic phenomena often integrate environmental sensors into their smart city solutions as part of their emergency preparedness program. With the addition of modern communication assets such as dynamic message boards and mass notification systems, these early warning tools help cities be more proactive in initiating emergency public safety protocols.

Anticipating flood evacuations. In lowlands and coastal regions prone to tropical storms, water level sensors linked to network video cameras monitor rising ground water and send alerts about potential flooding, allowing the city to initiate pre-planned evacuation procedures before routes become impassable.

Responding to hazardous road conditions. Intelligent cameras with onboard analytics can function as Environmental Sensor Stations to detect weather activity – such as torrential rain, snow, sleet, or ice – that will likely lead to hazardous roadway conditions. With early detection, agencies have time to divert traffic to less risky routes, close specific roadways, or issue shelter-inplace advisories for affected areas.

Alerting public to impending earthquakes. In areas prone to earthquakes, underground sensors can provide early detection of seismic activity. They are generally tied into mass notification systems that use IP speakers in public spaces to broadcast warnings for the community to seek safe shelter before the quake hits.

WHY IP-BASED EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS SOLUTIONS ARE SO EFFECTIVE

An emergency communications solution based on IP technologies makes it possible to integrate multiple agency sub-systems into a unified user experience. It allows a city to drive a more efficient and comprehensive flow of information to those who need it, when they need it. These solutions are elastic in nature, easily scaling up or down to fit the needs of a specific situation.

They can be set up to regularly selfmonitor and automatically notify administrators of failures and outages as they happen. This ensures that problems are discovered and corrected before an event response when reliance on complete system operability is critical.

Describing his experience with his own city’s real-time command center, Maj. Neil Klotzer of the Atlanta Police Department said the comprehensive solution “demonstrates that working together, we can build a safer, more security city for everyone. And we can do it while respecting the right to individual privacy.”

With ever-increasing challenges faced by public safety and emergency preparedness officials, creating a cohesive emergency communications network that fosters interagency support and sharing of resources is both a valid, and a valuable, path forward.

This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of Security Today.

Featured

  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    The Importance of Proactive Security Measures: 4 Stories of Regret

    We all want to believe that crime won’t happen to us. So, some business owners hope for the best and put proactive security measures on the back burner, because other things like growth, attracting new customers, and meeting deadlines all seem more pressing. Read Now

  • Multifamily Manager Methodologies

    Property managers have their hands full, especially when it comes to establishing successful security systems on their properties. There are many pieces to the puzzle that come together for a property to protect itself properly. Read Now

  • The Recipe for Stadium Security

    The threat landscape of stadium security is fluid. Today’s venues and stadiums have operational security 24/7, hosting sporting events, community events, concerts, conventions and more – each with a unique visitor base and each with unique security risks. Read Now

  • Securing the Flow of Operations

    The transportation industry is a complex and dynamic environment where efficient management of physical keys, vehicles and shared devices is critical to ensuring smooth operations, reducing costs and maintaining security. Every day, more transportation facilities are using modern electronic key and asset management systems to better secure, audit and manage the important assets that keep operations running smoothly. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

Webinars

New Products

  • Mobile Safe Shield

    Mobile Safe Shield

    SafeWood Designs, Inc., a manufacturer of patented bullet resistant products, is excited to announce the launch of the Mobile Safe Shield. The Mobile Safe Shield is a moveable bullet resistant shield that provides protection in the event of an assailant and supplies cover in the event of an active shooter. With a heavy-duty steel frame, quality castor wheels, and bullet resistant core, the Mobile Safe Shield is a perfect addition to any guard station, security desks, courthouses, police stations, schools, office spaces and more. The Mobile Safe Shield is incredibly customizable. Bullet resistant materials are available in UL 752 Levels 1 through 8 and include glass, white board, tack board, veneer, and plastic laminate. Flexibility in bullet resistant materials allows for the Mobile Safe Shield to blend more with current interior décor for a seamless design aesthetic. Optional custom paint colors are also available for the steel frame. 3

  • ResponderLink

    ResponderLink

    Shooter Detection Systems (SDS), an Alarm.com company and a global leader in gunshot detection solutions, has introduced ResponderLink, a groundbreaking new 911 notification service for gunshot events. ResponderLink completes the circle from detection to 911 notification to first responder awareness, giving law enforcement enhanced situational intelligence they urgently need to save lives. Integrating SDS’s proven gunshot detection system with Noonlight’s SendPolice platform, ResponderLink is the first solution to automatically deliver real-time gunshot detection data to 911 call centers and first responders. When shots are detected, the 911 dispatching center, also known as the Public Safety Answering Point or PSAP, is contacted based on the gunfire location, enabling faster initiation of life-saving emergency protocols. 3

  • PE80 Series

    PE80 Series by SARGENT / ED4000/PED5000 Series by Corbin Russwin

    ASSA ABLOY, a global leader in access solutions, has announced the launch of two next generation exit devices from long-standing leaders in the premium exit device market: the PE80 Series by SARGENT and the PED4000/PED5000 Series by Corbin Russwin. These new exit devices boast industry-first features that are specifically designed to provide enhanced safety, security and convenience, setting new standards for exit solutions. The SARGENT PE80 and Corbin Russwin PED4000/PED5000 Series exit devices are engineered to meet the ever-evolving needs of modern buildings. Featuring the high strength, security and durability that ASSA ABLOY is known for, the new exit devices deliver several innovative, industry-first features in addition to elegant design finishes for every opening. 3