Recent years have seen public safety agencies worldwide adopt several new technologies in an effort to stay ahead of threats that exist in today’s ever-changing digital world. At the same time, departments are utilizing existing technology in new ways in order to better communicate with and inform the public. This proactive approach is leading to partnerships that both agencies and community members find mutually beneficial.
To help you examine the many ways your agency can more effectively use technology to further the creation of safer, more cohesive communities, we’ve compiled a list of tools – some proven and available, some untested and on the way – with the potential to serve as valuable assets for public safety agencies.
Today’s mobile apps aren’t just for entertainment anymore. In fact, public safety agencies across the country are using mobile applications to enhance communication between law enforcement, emergency responders and the general public. For example:
CrimePad enables law enforcement officers to record, track, maintain, collaborate and report on all data within a criminal investigation or crime scene.
USPDHub is a community outreach app designed to facilitate current and critical two-way communication between public safety officials and community members.
PulsePoint Respond immediately alerts CPR-trained bystanders in the event of a nearby cardiac emergency so that CPR may be performed as quickly as possible.
EMERGENCY DATA MAPPING
In the age of “big data,” public safety departments are working to utilize the massive amount of information collected on a daily basis to create crime and disaster maps. These maps present officials with a high-level view of variables such as where and when certain crimes are occurring. What’s more, mapping makes it easier for law enforcement agencies to deliver community members with easy-to-understand information so that citizens are not only more aware, but have the ability to be more proactive in preventing future incidents.
Cities such as Camden, New Jersey and Oakland, California have implemented interactive crime mapping programs like CopLogic that allow for web-based citizen incident reporting. Some mapping technologies even allow victims of non-violent or non-emergency crimes to submit reports online, freeing up officers to respond to life-threatening situations.
WEARABLE VIDEO RECORDING SYSTEMS
The subject of multiple headlines in recent months, wearable video recording devices are being implemented by police departments both large and small to provide an extra level of protection to both officers and civilians. Also known as “body cameras,” wearable video recording devices are a way for law enforcement agencies to increase accountability in an age where full transparency is an ever-present demand.
With the New York Police Department working to outfit almost every officer with a body camera, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed the sentiments of many when he endorsed the initiative, saying, “When something happens, to have a video record of it, from the police officers’ perspective, is going to help in many, many ways.”
TABLETS AND SMARTPHONES
What are now staples of the modern American home are increasingly being seen as valuable tools by public safety officials nationwide. These mobile devices, which often appear in a more rugged form than versions used by everyday consumers, are designed to house several applications and allow access to information once inaccessible to officers out on patrol.
Not only do these smart devices make everyday tasks much more efficient, many are capable of being used for video surveillance, dispatch and license plate recognition.
GPS tracking technology is quickly gaining traction among public safety organizations for its ability to enhance the safety of officers and emergency crews, lower operating costs and shorten response times.
GPS tracking technology can perform a multitude of tasks, from instantly locating personnel to sending an alert whenever a vehicle emits an engine fault code, helping to avoid costly repairs. GPS tracking can even monitor driver behavior and verify whether or not a specific area or route is being covered, helping to support a department’s utilization of crime mapping data.