No matter what their size or mission, most public agencies – more than 90 percent – now say they want to be able to share real-time data and video between command, dispatch and responders in the field, according to the 2013 Public Safety Industry Study from Motorola Solutions.
Providing first responders with real-time access to data—static and streaming video, suspect photos, criminal histories, building plans, medical histories and more—is increasingly being regarded as critical to public safety. This translates to greater demand for high-speed communications; since the 2012 survey, the number of agencies acknowledging the importance of mobile broadband for their future operations rose by more than 30 percent.
With responses from more than 850 public safety professionals, Motorola's 2013 study offers a timely snapshot of the current state of public safety communications technology. Representing a broad cross-section of public safety agencies, respondents strongly indicated the need to provide real-time information to enhance situational awareness in the field, and to drive faster, better decision-making in every phase of every incident. For first responders, immediate access to information proves key to increasing public safety efficiency and effectiveness.
Among the study's other findings:
The 2013 study also reveals the new government focus on cybersecurity and safeguarding the devices that deliver data to the field. In the past six years, the number of cybersecurity incidents reported by government agencies has increased by nearly 680 percent. Cyberattacks are on the rise, and public safety agencies are increasingly threatened by hackers whose intentions are not just to steal information, but to disrupt or even totally shut down public safety networks. Fifty percent of respondents are at least somewhat likely to be implementing new security measures in the next year.
Learn more about this and other issues facing the public safety industry in the 2013 Public Safety Industry Study here.
Tom Miller is the director of Government and Public Safety markets for the North America Customer Solutions division of Motorola Solutions.
'SHOTS FIRED' CALL, TODAY
A call of "shots fired" comes out over the air.
As units begin to respond, additional calls roll in as "person shot." Officers arrive on scene and search to find the victim – the shooting is bona fide. After trying to get information from the victim and speaking to a few witnesses, officers have scant and conflicting details on the shooter. Time is critical; officers need to get information out to responding units so they can look for the offender. A "flash message" with limited information is put over the air – but it's now 13 minutes after the first call of "shots fired," and the shooter and weapon used are long gone.
‘SHOTS FIRED' CALL, TOMORROW
Fast forward to the same situation when the police department is equipped with a Real-Time Crime Center. The call of "shots fired" comes over the air. Dispatchers are already zooming in on the exact location of the gunfire, and crime analysts are pulling up the video. Before the officers arrive, they can view on their devices exactly what happened and who was involved. As they pull up on scene they see the shooter trying to blend in with the crowd; he is apprehended without incident and the weapon used is recovered. All within minutes of the first call to 911.
Officers respond to calls like this on a daily basis. Unfortunately, a quick arrest is usually not the result unless officers are close by or actually view the incident. It can take days for detectives to gather enough evidence to identify an offender and can take even longer to apprehend one. Even more important, officers are walking into very dangerous situations blindly – but they don't have to anymore.
Officers can attain a visual of the scene, suspect's names and criminal histories, as well as gang affiliations and activity in the area – all before they arrive on scene – by using RTCC as a means to compile and analyze meaningful data. With this intelligence, officers can safely respond to calls, neutralize situations more quickly and apprehend offenders faster than they can today.
What is a Real-Time Crime Center?
By streamlining and converging real-time data – such as video from city and/or private cameras, calls from citizens, and even snapshots from cell phones – the RTCC provides a single, uniform snapshot to responding officers prior to arriving on scene. Working behind the scenes, RTCC analysts alleviate the bottleneck of information from different forms of technology. Today, the data – such as arrest records, license plate capture, photographs, calls for service etc. – resides in disparate databases. The RTCC integrates this data to provide crime-solving intelligence in seconds instead of hours, even days, as done today.
RTCC allows law enforcement to switch from operating reactively to a more proactive approach. With the ability to track activity from known criminals, as well as gang movements, police will better be able to predict crimes before they happen. This ability to eliminate crime is the reason why 70 percent of police forces in America are exploring predictive policing and 90 percent plan to increase its use in the next five years, according to the Police Executive Research Forum.
There was a time when officers didn't carry radios. Today it is unheard for an officer to leave the station without a radio – it is our lifeline. Officers are beginning to rely on data more and more, and at some point, it will be unheard of for an officer to step onto a scene without it. RTCC is the first step toward arming officers with actionable intelligence in real-time.
Karen Bartuch has been in law enforcement since 2002 and still works part-time for a small county west of Chicago. She is the president and founder of the Women's Tactical Association, a charity that brings tactical training to female law enforcement. She joined Motorola Solutions in 2011 and is a Solution Sales Center of Excellence Team Leader. Contributor Jeff Beres is an intern at Motorola Solutions and will be a senior at Illinois Wesleyan University majoring in Business Administration with a focus on Pre-Law.
Learn more about the Real-Time Crime Centers here.
This is part two of a multi-part blog series.
Take a look around you. How many things within your reach can be connected to a computer? Do you have a mobile phone, MP3 player, tablet, or USB drive? In our increasingly wired world, many devices can connect. Shoes can provide running data; e-readers are increasingly popular replacements for paper books. From a security perspective, removable devices provide a big challenge. Although these devices provide great convenience, they’re also perfect carriers for viruses – carriers which we often take with us between work and home. It’s not just USB drives that pose a risk. Cameras, mobile phones, MP3 players, and many other USB, FireWire, and Bluetooth devices function as storage devices as well.
The term “computer virus” is appropriate. Malware spreads like biological infections do. It needs a carrier to spread, and the most effective malware is usually that which spreads the most quickly and efficiently. Malware authors use any and all means of connection at their disposal to distribute their code, and removable drives work great. Additionally, just like an infected person, a device carrying a computer virus needn’t have an active or visible infection to spread it. Malware spreads more effectively when it remains undetected.
Let’s look back to November of 2008 and one of the most famous examples of infection by USB drive. The United States Department of Defense discovered covert malware infecting a large segment of U.S. military computers, with the potential to relay data to an outside attacker. Even though some of those computers were classified and physically separated from the rest of the network, the virus continued to spread. During analysis, administrators discovered that removable drives were an infection vector. A total ban on removable devices was instituted across the DoD that remained in place for years. Keep in mind that in 2008, removable drives were not an unknown means to infect computers. However, people were unwilling to compromise on the convenience they provided until disaster struck.
If there’s any doubt that this vector of infection is still effective, we have the 2010 example of the Stuxnet industrial malware, which spread to its target isolated centrifuge networks via users’ USB drives. In 2012, the similarly sophisticated Flame malware was discovered, also relying on the distinctly unsophisticated infection vector of removable drives; even using those drives to steal data more efficiently. In both of these cases, antivirus was ineffective in detecting the infection for some time. This could be equally applicable to a segregated radio-over-IP network.
We’ve established that people are willing to plug their own removable devices into computers on different networks. What about a USB drive that belongs to a stranger? The numbers are surprisingly disheartening. In a 2011 Department of Homeland Security study, 60% of USB drives planted randomly in a parking lot were plugged into agency computers by curious employees and contractors. Planting infected drives has become a tried and true method of breaching networks. Why should Jane Hacker expend the effort to sneak into a building and access a computer when she can leave a USB drive containing her malware in the cafeteria, or mail it to an employee as a promotional item? For a bit more money, she could plant an uncharged MP3 player instead, which might be even more tempting to plug in.
There are two methods of decreasing the threat that removable devices pose. The first option: technical and administrative controls. It has become standard practice for organizations to restrict the use of USB devices (with good reason: even the most recent U.S. government data breach was accomplished using a USB drive), and to disable the automatic start of programs on them. The more neglected option is user awareness. While connectable devices are convenient, we should remember that our devices could act as carriers for malware, treat removable devices from an unknown source with suspicion, and think before we plug things in.
Lesley Carhart is a Senior Information Security Specialist in the Motorola Solutions Security Operations Center. She has 13 years of experience in information technology, including computer networking and tactical communications. For the past five years, she has focused on security, specializing in digital forensics.
Read past blogs by Lesley Carhart:
Driving to a recent summer outdoor music event, I saw police officers directing traffic, on street corners improving traffic flow, and in parking lots providing directions and help. As my husband and I went through multiple parking lots searching for a parking space we pulled into one lot and a local officer said, “You can park over there. There are plenty of spots.” These officers were following an event plan on how to keep the community safe and maintain an orderly flow of concert goers while protecting local homeowners from the onslaught of people in their neighborhoods trying to get to the music event.
Tomorrow marks a National holiday in the United States, Independence Day, a time for family picnic celebrations, local festivals and firework displays. While most of us are relaxing and enjoying the day’s festivities, public safety departments are hard at work. They have been planning for weeks and months for local events, and as a result of events like the Boston Marathon bombing, many departments are beefing up security and event plans.
Planning is a big part of every agency’s responsibilities. Thinking about the “what if . . .” scenarios is an important part of keeping our communities safe during the summer festival season.
So this summer as you attend local events and you see police officers on street corners, patrolling festival grounds, and helping to control an event so that it can be a safe experience for everyone, please take the time to say thanks.
Liz Matz is a Senior Solutions Marketing Manager for Motorola Solutions
There's nothing like the sudden wail of an ambulance, piercing the calm of a summer afternoon, to remind us that time can be our enemy. Haven't we all heard a siren and thought: I hope they get there in time? The paramedics are racing, the hospital is preparing to receive the patient, and the clock is ticking, ticking. During that "golden hour" after a heart attack, stroke or trauma – when every second counts toward saving a life – it's easy to see why EMS needs the best communications support it can get.
Mobile data can help make better use of those precious minutes in transport. I hear a lot of excitement when I talk with EMS pros about the future of emergency telemedicine. I'm excited about the future too – but I'm also excited about the present. Here's why: EMS departments can take significant steps, right now, to equip ambulances with mobile applications that promote cost containment and improved patient outcomes. The "future" is already here.
For example, your existing P25 radio network has the bandwidth to send 12-lead ECG data ahead to the hospital. Doctors can receive critical data about heart function, provide guidance to EMTs and prepare treatment options while the patient is still in transport. Other electronic monitoring data (BP, pulse, respiration rate, and more) can be transmitted as well. The equipment and software to make this happen are already in use by some EMS departments. It's a good investment in community health and a solid long-term choice because these systems can keep doing the job for years, alongside emerging technologies that will come aboard later.
Another approach is using 3G/4G cellular networks to share critical information so doctors can see injuries and start assessing the patient's condition on the way to the hospital. However, EMTs can't simply take a picture on a smartphone and upload it with the same app teenagers use to stay in touch with friends. That's because ordinary social networks, messaging and email apps are not HIPAA/FDA compliant. You'll need specialized applications from a vendor who understands medical privacy regulations and mission-critical public safety data security.
Today, telemedicine can help emergency service agencies save lives by making transport time work to the patient's advantage. Time becomes a friend and not the enemy. The "golden hour" won't wait. Why should we?
Steve Nowlan is Director of Solution Architecture for Motorola Solutions Global Services. He is also a former Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Fellow and did his post-doctoral studies in neuroscience at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Learn more about EMS mobile data, network bandwidth and the practical realities of telemedicine in this article by Motorola Solutions' Curt Bashford in EMS World.
For information on sending data from the ambulance today using your P25 network, please click here.