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“State-of-the-art” public safety

Written by Jennifer Gavigan

So what exactly does “state-of-the-art” mean when it comes to public safety agencies? In reality, all agencies are going to need the latest and greatest technology in order to serve the public to the best of their abilities. Procedures (such as looking up a license plate or a suspect) that once took hours or days now take a matter of minutes or even seconds, thanks to advanced technology.

From digital fingerprint scanning (see “Homeland Security’s virtual 3D light technology,” page 10), to acoustic surveillance (see “To the dot: gunshot location system pinpoints shots fired,” page 32), to geospatial mapping (see “Intelligence mapping solutions from Pitney Bowes,” page 34), today’s technology for public safety agencies is advancing at a rapid rate. It has to in order to keep up with the demands of the job. Biometric ID and forensics are also playing a big role in solving criminal cases, as DNA evidence is used more and more today. Facial recognition uses scans to identify suspects who may be on Wanted Lists.

A high-tech public safety agency doesn’t just mean a new, modern facility. Part of what makes most of these new technologies state-of-the-art is the fact that they can be deployed in the field or in vehicles. Officers are saving valuable time by not having to drive back to the station for lookups or downloads. Data is wirelessly transmitted from their mobile computers, rugged laptops, BlackBerrys, etc., to a server at the station or HQ. In this business, time is critical and could mean the difference between life and death.

Companies like Sprint (see “Sprint and public safety: a secure relationship,”page 1) are revolutionizing the way first responders operate, especially under extreme conditions. Sprint’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) is a virtual mobile agency, with everything from satellites, to two-way radios, to a mobile command center. Their launch into the WiMax 4G world of mobile broadband is enabling high-speed communications and data transfer.

Many of today’s high-tech solutions for public safety were shown at the 2009 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Conference in Denver. Agencies across the country are talking to other agencies to find out what is working for them in terms of CAD, RMS, wireless networks, consoles, etc. Sharing ideas and lessons learned can help any agency succeed. Crime happens everywhere, whether in a big urban city or a small rural town. An agency doesn’t necessarily have to be the biggest to be the best.

Other amenities are important in addition to technology. Ergonomically correct and even temperature-controlled consoles, as well as indirect lighting and fitness centers, are becoming the norm in public safety agencies. Most employees spend large amounts of time at the facilities, so in order for them to perform at their peak efficiency, they need the best environment possible.

For the latest in state-of-the-art mobile technology, don’t miss Police Fleet Expo - WEST, May 12-14, 2010 in Long Beach, CA; www.policefleetexpo.com.

Published in Public Safety IT, Nov/Dec 2009

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