MCP Insights

How Public Safety Agencies are Navigating Change and Accelerating Progress

Posted on August 8, 2019 by Morgan Sava

MCP’s Model for Advancing Public Safety is Helping Agencies Build a Blueprint for Today and What They Can Become

Last year, the 911 Center that serves Harford County, Maryland, was having a hard time recruiting and retaining telecommunicators, a problem that is quite common in emergency communications centers (ECCs) across the country.

“We’d been having trouble finding people capable of doing the job, and when we did, we were losing them. We couldn’t understand why,” Ross Coates, manager of Harford County’s 911 center, said. “We needed to stop the revolving door.”

If keeping the ECC appropriately staffed wasn’t challenging enough, Coates also had other pressing matters on his mind. Longer term, the center needed to prepare for the arrival of Next Generation 911 (NG911), which will require telecommunicators to have entirely new skill sets, further complicating the recruitment and retention challenges. Because NG911 technology is IP-based and broadband-enabled, it will generate a tremendous amount of data compared with narrowband legacy 911 systems. A new breed of telecommunicator will be required to deal with this data—one that has analytics skills and advanced coping skills to deal with new stressors that aren’t present today.

Coates acknowledged that he and other Harford County officials needed more and better information as they strived to address the ECC’s issues. “Not only was a way to validate our ask for additional staffing resources of county leadership essential, we needed a clearer picture of where we needed to focus our efforts over six months, three years, and five years down the road,” he said.
Coates turned to Mission Critical Partners (MCP) to provide an impartial viewpoint to solidify the center’s needs today and into the future.

A Blueprint for Progress

MCP piloted a new strategic framework, today known as the Model for Advancing Public SafetySM, or MAPSSM, to guide the county on various staffing solutions and to provide direction for the future.

In Harford County, key factors were studied—organizational structure, operational configuration, staffing levels, training, and quality assurance, to new a few. First, MCP subject-matter experts conducted collaborative interviews with public safety leadership and stakeholders, and follow-up interviews and onsite visits to fully understand the organization’s operational environment. They then provided the county with an easy-to-grasp glimpse into what was working well and what wasn’t, as well as a comprehensive set of recommendations and next steps for how to overcome their challenges.

MAPS Includes Four Essential Elements for ECCs

  • A Proprietary Methodology

Each MAPS assessment is customized based on the public safety’s organization’s needs and circumstances, and the most relevant factors are identified. These factors then are combined with industry standards, best practices, and MCP’s intellectual property, to produce a quantifiable assessment and a comprehensive set of recommendations.

  • A Blueprint

A key element of the MAPS framework is a color-coded blueprint that depicts the status of each factor that was assessed. The colors are easy to grasp—green indicates factors that are low risk, and thus not in need of immediate attention; yellow indicates those areas at risk; and red indicates factors that should be immediately addressed. The blueprint takes a lot of complex data and distills it into something that is understood quickly and easily.

Another key feature of the blueprint is that it is a medium that can support communication efforts with stakeholders and elected officials to justify funding priorities.

  • A Metric to Measure Progress

Another benefit of the MAPS blueprint is that it creates a benchmark score that an agency can use to measure progress moving forward, as well as an assessment of how an organization is doing compared with other compatible public safety organizations.

  • A Comprehensive Recommendations Report

The MAPS scoring and blueprint ultimately become the basis for a comprehensive recommendations report that guides the client regarding specific strategies for addressing the identified risk factors.

More Than Staffing Challenges

The MAPS framework can be applied to any challenge a public safety agency is facing, such as physical and cybersecurity, land mobile radio system replacement, Next Generation 911 planning and even geographic information system (GIS) data development and maintenance.

MAPS can guide an agency’s development long term, up to five years or more. For Harford County, this was exactly what they needed. “The MAPS assessment gave us ideas as to how we could obtain a sustainable operation, it told us what we needed to do to be successful,” Coates said. “MAPS isn’t a want, it’s a need.”

Learn more about MCP’s Model for Advancing Public Safety framework or download the whitepaper, “A Model for Advancing Public Safety: A Blueprint to Help Public Safety Organizations Understand their Environments.”

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