First responders historically have arrived at an emergency scene armed with only the information that emergency communications center (ECC) telecommunicators extracted while talking with a 911 caller. However, such callers usually are experiencing one of the worst moments of their lives, which makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for most to deliver complete, coherent information. As a result, first responders are left to piece together what to expect upon arrival.
Today, thanks to technologies like Next Generation 911 (NG911) and public safety broadband, first responders arrive at an emergency scene with much more information and a better understanding of the situation than ever before. However, the influx of information from public and private sources—including alarm-generated data, images, videos, social-media data, and text—can overwhelm telecommunicators and further complicate an already difficult job.
The Challenges of Data Influx
We’ve discussed the challenges associated with data influx into ECCs numerous times in previous blogs and white papers, including the impact on telecommunicators and how data will affect operations. Technology solutions—e.g., artificial intelligence and machine-learning—should enable ECCs to automatically parse incoming data and ultimately help telecommunicators identify relevant and actionable information that should be shared with first responders during the dispatch process.
However, when it comes to dispatching emergency response, the combination of overwhelming amounts of data and disparate communications systems generates four primary considerations that will impact an agency’s call-handling and dispatch technology decisions:
- Outdated technology
- Siloed systems
- Network security
When replacing aging or outdated technology, agencies need to consider their needs today and for the future. Solutions need to be affordable, scalable, and easily deployable, while limiting disruption to mission-critical operations, not only during the implementation and cutover process but also during the software-update process.
Today’s public safety and emergency response agencies are seeking solutions that analyze and present data in ways that make it more user friendly. Agencies can support this by leveraging technologies that improve data workflows and implementing unique integrations that help break down barriers between systems, create a consistent user experience, and deliver uniform information to the end user.
Network security is critical to maintaining operations and supporting emergency response. Agencies should invest in solutions that help reduce the risk of cyberattacks that could result in network outages and downtime by securing data, applications, and systems. In addition, agencies can reduce the strain on limited information technology (IT) resources by leveraging outside experts to support network management and cybersecurity efforts.
Limited funding means that agencies need to closely monitor and manage costs associated with any new technology. Managing vendor contracts through negotiation of service level agreements (SLAs) and proactive management of vendor relationships— whether done using in-house resources or by outsourcing—can help agencies save time and money, while maximizing the value of vendor agreements.
To provide first responders with the actionable information that data influx provides, agencies need to procure and implement affordable, secure solutions to replace outdated technologies. Such solutions should be integrated and work together seamlessly to support effective and efficient emergency response. Ultimately agencies need to select solutions that will address their challenges today and scale to meet their future needs, while at the same time empowering telecommunicators to make better-informed decisions by providing enhanced data. MCP’s more than 150 subject-matter experts can help guide these decisions—please reach out.