Public safety information technology: the last decade, 2010 and beyond
The role of IT for public safety has changed over the past decade to meet the ever-increasing demands of technology for first responders. There is no doubt that the computer and Internet have changed the way public safety professionals do their jobs. For example, the advent of wireless and WiMax technology is enabling officers to perform their jobs in the field more efficiently. Right now Sprint has the only 4G WiMax network, as discussed in our last issue. Data sharing between agencies helps solve crimes faster than ever before. “Cloud computing” is fast becoming a popular term for what is essentially a new supplement, consumption and delivery model for IT services based on the Internet. It typically involves the provision of dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources as a service over the Internet.
Video evidence can be used in more legal cases today thanks to in-car digital video cameras for police vehicles. Instead of just one camera on the dashboard, systems such as Panasonic’s Arbitrator 360 have up to five cameras placed throughout the vehicle so no angle is missed. Digital fingerprint scanners also provide accurate, immediate identification for officers on patrol. In addition, the advent of BlackBerrys for undercover officers provides a stealthy way to run background checks on potential suspects at any time, in any place. Facial and speech recognition are also high-tech tools for the modern day officer to catch criminals.
State-of-the-art 9-1-1 centers throughout the country feature the latest in computer-aided dispatching (CAD), consoles, video screens and records management systems (RMS). Homeland security is a top priority these days, so secure facilities and command centers are a must.
Cybersecurity is proving to be a main focal point of the Obama administration, since protecting the nation’s information is critical. In this issue, we take a look at the recommended security policies for land mobile radios (LMRs) as well as the P25 Guidelines (see page 1). In addition, full-body scanners may become the norm at airports across the country in order to thwart terrorist attacks. While the Recovery and Reinvestment Act promised millions of dollars in stimulus money for public safety, many agencies are still waiting for those funds and/or grants. Hopefully 2010 will see much of those funds being distributed for the purchase of new technologies like the ones mentioned above.
As a look back at 2009, Public Safety IT invites readers to share what they think are some of the best innovations in public safety IT from the last year. These may be solutions, software or products that have proved valuable for your agency. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
, and we will publish your comments in the next issue and online.
What will this new decade bring in terms of public safety information technology? It’s exciting to think of all the possibilities considering what we’ve already seen in just the past few years. For a sneak peek at new mobile technology as it relates to public safety, attend the Police Fleet Expo—WEST in Long Beach, CA, May 12-14, 2010, www.policefleetexpo.com