Emergency communications centers (ECCs) have more responsibility than ever to provide the right quality and level of response to save lives and manage resources effectively. Additionally, keeping up with rapidly advancing technology for many government-led organizations, including ECCs, can be challenging. From budgetary to integration and cybersecurity considerations, upgrading isn't as simple as purchasing the latest software. As a result, supervisors may delay implementing the network, equipment, and software upgrades they need to provide immediate and high-tech emergency services.
With the proper software solutions, supervisors will have the technology they need to allow their facilities to evolve without dramatic budget increases. Better yet, the right technological partner will recognize the challenges supervisors face and provide services and software that help them succeed.
The rapid introduction of these new technologies in recent years has amplified the need for directors to prepare their centers and take advantage of these new capabilities. The challenge in innovating and progressing, however, is that directors must consider these factors:
Given most people’s reliance on smartphones and other devices, our society produces a wealth of data every day. The amount of “smart” equipment is enough that in 1999, Kevin Ashton coined the term “Internet of Things” (IoT), which is a system of unique smart devices and sensors that can transfer data over a network without human intervention. Therefore, ECCs with the proper technology can receive and respond to information about a possible crime or emergency without having to make a phone call.
The advent of IoT does cause a disruption in terms of the ability of the public safety ecosystem to collect data from multiple sources. Customizable analytics solutions can categorize, sort, and utilize vast amounts of data to discover patterns and trendlines to assist professionals in adjusting their operations decision-making.
The program could gather additional data concerning the caller, the location, and dynamic data on the site, including weather alerts and traffic conditions. The dynamic data, coupled with static data such as time and day of the week, can predict needed resources down the line.
For example, where an intersection tends to have more accidents from 5 p.m. through 7 p.m. during the week, the center can be prepared to have police and ambulances on standby. Or, knowing that call volume increases towards the end of the month, the ECC could adjust staffing requirements accordingly.
Along with the IoT, AI, and ML come new security issues. If ECCs have access to data such as traffic cameras and the ability to look up the caller's public histories, who else may want those capabilities? Leadership must educate themselves on internal and external security risks, from human errors to malware or distributed denial of service attacks, and update policies to reflect modern times.
78% of disasters recorded in the United States each year are weather-related, yet public safety officials typically underestimate the number of weather-related disasters that will occur.*
Severe weather can result in downed power lines, trees, and road closures requiring agencies to have the ability to reroute traffic dynamically in order to get first responders to the scene of the incident as safely and efficiently as possible.
These four factors demonstrate the complexity of a center's needs and potential futures. Updating ECCs is no small task for directors who oversee significant upgrades. Directors must keep up with available technologies and consider how to use them to enhance 911 services while managing budget constraints.