Body-worn cameras made headlines across America this year after violence and protests in several cities, and President Obama called for a $75 million program to equip police with the new technology. Judging by a study in Rialto, California, wearable cameras may serve to encourage restraint by both the citizens and public safety users, preserving public safety. This was one of America’s biggest news stories of the year, and Nathan Rowe’s blog Pros & Cons of the Wearable Camera examines the technology and its broader ramifications in a thoughtful way. That’s why we’re naming it our #1 public safety blog of the year.
In second place, public safety expert Steve Sebestyen explains all kinds of ways police are now monitoring crime activities – as well as trying to predict it and stop it – in his analysis of Community Policing Today: Leading with Intelligence and Technology. If you haven’t read it yet, dive in to catch up.
Everyone who uses the Internet has seen story after story throughout 2014 about hackers cracking their way into supposedly secure systems. So this year we list cybersecurity expert Lesley Carhart’s exposition on cloud security in third place: What is ‘the Cloud’? And How Secure Is It? Learn from Lesley what you can do to safeguard yourself and your data.
Overall, our top 10 blogs captured about 64,000 views and sparked many spicy comments and likes and shares throughout the year. Even if you didn’t have time to read our 63 blogs throughout the year, please dig in now to the rest of this year’s best:
4. Soccer, the Samba & Security: Brazil Takes Steps to Safeguard 2014 World Cup, by Daniel Sanchez. In this blog, Danny Sanchez reviews the many advanced technologies Brazilian authorities used to keep soccer players and fans safe during the festivities for the 2014 World Cup.
5. What If Someone Sends an Emoji To 9-1-1? by Brian Frommelt, and 6, Lose the Dashes (and 3 Other Lessons Learned from Text-to-9-1-1 Early Adopters), by Ross Venhuizen, focus on the solving the challenges police and dispatchers face when upgrading 9-1-1 systems.
7. Under Water, Under Fire: These Radios Take a Beating and Keep Transmitting, by Adam Schwartz. How many radios will take a bullet for you? This blog answers that question, and talks about another situation where a Motorola radio made the difference between life and death.
8. Volunteer Firefighters: Ready to Answer the Call, by Dhiren Chauhan. In this inspiring blog, Dhiren Chauhan discusses how the right equipment makes a difference in how quickly volunteers and career firefighters can reach the scene.
9. See the Public Safety Experience: Technology that Adapts to You, by Cathal Tierney. The Public Safety Experience, or PSX, represents the next generation of public safety technology – smart technology that tracks where you are and provides you the information you need to see. Definitely a must-read blog for 2014.
10. Is Your First Response to Extreme Weather the BEST Response? , by Ryan Seick. In this blog, Ryan explains how weather and the environment can affect first responders and considers the solutions like Intelligent Data Portal that can help field workers with situational awareness.
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Jennifer Mesenbrink is Senior Manager of Digital and Social Strategy at Motorola Solutions.
Please let her know of any subjects you’d like to read about here via email – firstname.lastname@example.org – or in the Comments section below.
Part two of a multi-part blog series
In September, I looked at how some law enforcement agencies are embracing social media to catch criminals and keep their communities safer. But what if technology could play a similar role in making sure that crime never happens in the first place? What if the focus shifted from keeping as many criminals off the streets as possible to stopping as many crimes as possible before they happen? Police won’t, and can’t, stop every crime, but even deterring one crime is worth the time and effort, if it means a safer community. And it’s likely worth it financially as well, with a recent RAND study finding that a single homicide costs a city, on average, over $8 million in lost revenue.
Stopping crime is the goal of predictive policing, a methodology which uses data analytics to predict and deter crimes. The theory behind predictive policing is that some crimes are not random. There are patterns in the location, time, and people that commit various crimes. Data analytics make it possible to identify hotspots that are at the highest risk for future crimes and proactively deploy staff to those areas as a deterrent.
As stated by Los Angeles Police Chief, Charlie Beck, “I’m not going to get more money. I’m not going to get more cops. I have to be better at using what I have, and that’s what predictive policing is about.”
Two Georgia cities have recently embraced this methodology. Late last year Atlanta implemented Predpol’s predictive policing software and has already seen results. During a 90-day pilot period, crime in the test areas had dropped significantly from the previous year.
Norcross, GA also implemented this methodology in 2013 and has seen similar results. Says Lt. Bill Grogan, "We have seen anywhere from 15 to 30 percent in reduction in burglaries and robberies… I don't care how science fiction or how far out there it is, the proof is in the pudding."
Other cities, like Chicago and Rochester, MN, are focusing instead on the individuals most likely to commit crimes and hoping to steer them away from that path. Rochester authorities proposed a new program that would harness IBM technology to analyze juvenile behavior for indicators of trouble, such as skipping school. Police could then refer the most at-risk kids to the Boys and Girls Club or other similar programs.
Technology continues to make a significant impact in keeping communities safe. With predictive policing, agencies can stay a step ahead of crime so that it doesn’t happen in the first place.
Ross Venhuizen is a Global Marketing Specialist, Public Safety Solutions for Motorola Solutions.
The one statement that can bring both excitement and fear to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) is “It is time to purchase a new CAD system.” Like a kid opening presents on Christmas, a new system means new and exciting toys, yet that system often means change—a thought dreaded by many dispatchers.
How can you ensure a smooth transition from your old CAD system to the new one? Your approach will vary based on the type of transition you are going through, but in all cases it is important to make sure you understand what the differences in the system are before you start training. Ideally, you should understand the differences before you even purchase the system. Even if the changes are small, they will likely be the hardest part of this transition.
Upgrading to a Newer System
New system upgrades are generally much smoother transitions. It will be easy for you to ask your vendor to show you what the differences are in the system. Don’t ask them just to show you the differences, though. Request they explain why the changes were made to the system. If you know that a system change has been made to accommodate Next Generation 9-1-1 for example, it may make it easier for your users to accept the change.
“Make sure your vendor explains why changes were made.”
Ask your vendor to advise you on how you can make the right business practice changes. It is very likely that you are not the first customer that they have worked with to make changes. Quite often these people are former PSAP personnel who have been through the same situation.
The task of knowing how the new system is different may be a bit more difficult with a new vender. Ask them if they can do a site analysis of your operations and visit with your dispatchers to learn how you currently operate. They should then be able to advise you on how their system operates differently than your current system.
Form a team of dispatchers to review the current business practices and look at the new procedure. Involving users will give you valuable insight into their views on implementing a new system, getting them on board, and establishing new processes. Highlight the positives of a new system; point out what they did not like about the old system that will be improved with the new system to get excited. Make the fear of change and learning a new system take a back seat to the opportunities of the future.
Technology has rapidly changed in the last five years and shows no signs of slowing down. Interoperable systems, text to 9-1-1, cloud hosting and more are here now and things like MMS to 9-1-1 are coming soon. These new technologies are designed to allow dispatchers to do their job faster and more efficiently, and ultimately to improve the safety of their first responders and citizens. So Dispatchers should not fear change, but embrace it!
Julie Heimkes is Senior Sales Consultant, Motorola Solutions, Inc.
Learn more how Motorola’s PremierOne CAD systems help agencies improve response times, efficiently allocate resources and better inform first responders.
How weather and the surrounding environment affect public safety, and a look at the new solutions that can help field workers with situational awareness.
Though parts of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic had a gradual introduction to fall, winter arrived without a moment's delay. Cold air and high snow amounts will define the season, according to Accuweather.com, and the forecast for the remainder of the year and into 2015 will be a brisk, cold one.
In rain, wind, sleet or snow, first responders’ primary mission is to always be in communication and able to provide assistance at a moment’s notice. Most of today’s public safety communications are conducted over a Land Mobile Radio system that’s very voice-centric. With public 3G and 4G networks growing very prevalent today, many agencies are now tapping into these data networks to get additional information without using the voice networks. Today, 89% of public safety decision makers are now considering data communications just as mission critical as voice to get information out to their first responders in the field.
With seasonal changes come different challenges to public safety response tactics. For some agencies, summer brings extreme heat and severe thunderstorms, while winter brings icy conditions and cold weather that impact response times.
With the prevalence of public data sources that now can be “mined” for intelligence, first responders get updates more quickly than from traditional 911 calls. While 911 is still the primary interface to report an incident, social media and citizen reporting is becoming an ever more reliable and efficient source to capture details about what is happening at an incident location.
Weather can wreak havoc in any city when severe weather hits and the Intelligent Data Portal solution allows for Public Safety, Public Works, and Utilities to manage the amount of data that is available to them. Intelligent Data Portal has many vendors that are publishing their services and data into the solution. Accuweather helps map and deliver:
• high-resolution radar images
• lightning strikes
• recent earthquakes
• ongoing wildfires, and
• storm reports from first responders.
One exciting feature is the MinuteCast aspect, which will allow the total rainfall projection to be displayed up to 120 minutes before an area is impacted, providing advanced alerting to potential flash floods so users can see the impact of rainfall before it occurs.
We have also utilized Blueforce Development to provide sensor monitoring. This data source allows for some unique capabilities – especially in emergency relief – as it can track dogs as they provide search, rescue and recovery operations. So now the dog can go off-leash and you can see updates as to where the searches are occurring. The dog can also be fitted with various sensors – such as chemical, radiological, biological or environmental – to constantly monitor the area for any issues. This is extremely useful for search and rescue operations when areas have been impacted by severe weather and dogs are brought in to help identify locations of people potentially trapped in debris and rubble in effort to expedite extraction and save lives.
A team collaboration vendor, Drakontas, allows their DragonForce application to supply key features that include:
• real-time personnel tracking on maps;
• collaborative whiteboards and situation reports (images, maps, floor plans and diagrams can be used as collaborative whiteboards for mission planning and operations);
• instant messaging among individuals and groups;
• online storage and sharing of frequently used files, maps and images; and
• after-action reporting - every message, location report and file is logged.
This is especially useful when multiple agencies are responding to a large-scale event, like a tornado or hurricane, to coordinate many responding teams. It lets them see exactly which team is responding to what task; for search and rescue operations, it allows them to whiteboard which areas have been searched and what remains to be searched, all efforts that are done today with paper and pencil. This also provides a real-time view of all teams working in an area to provide direction and guide response to tasks needed to be completed.
Geofeedia, one of our social media providers, works through Intelligent Data Portal to detect and report on all public data from social media providers like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and YouTube. This is especially important as the Intelligent Data Portal now has the ability to share what is happening in real time with the emergency response teams. As people share more and more data with each other, capturing those moments and getting a real-time view of events as they take place all can now be achieved through this simple platform. Crowd-sourced data gives first responders a preview of the situation while en route to an incident; this capability is now available through Intelligent Data Portal.
Another way to allow additional access to land mobile radio communications is through the recently acquired Twisted Pair WAVE Communicator, which allows smartphones, tablets and web clients to immediately provide communications through an ISSI gateway, and offers pre-provisioned talk groups for executives and administrators who need communications access anytime, anywhere through their smart device with them. This is a huge advantage for any visiting/mutual aid scenarios to provide immediate access and communications to information simply by downloading and logging into a user account, gives them immediate access to those pre-provisioned talk groups and remote interoperability with the devices they bring with them.
Perhaps one of the most valuable resources is one that comes from those that get closest to the severe weather, like storm chasers. TVNWeather.com offers streams of live video and locations of active, trained storm chasers to provide real time views of weather as it happens so that first responders can get a view now in real time, not from the local news that may have delayed or other coverage than those driving into these storms. This data overlaid with all the other capabilities noted above is where Intelligent Data Portal excels above the rest, providing real-time information, for real-time responses to any weather situation, anytime.
Ryan Seick is a 15-year Product Manager and Innovation Champion for Motorola Solutions. His diverse background includes software development for the Advanced Concepts Team on the Telematics Communications Group, product management of the Droid Franchise responsible for the Droid X, Droid RAZR at Motorola Mobility, and he is now responsible for new and innovative applications and solutions for the Intelligence-Led Policing Solution at Motorola Solutions.