Parents always have great dreams for their children. Some parents also have great plans for realizing those dreams. Other parents aren’t as fortunate. They simply don’t have the wherewithal that is necessary. So, their children don’t get into the best colleges, even though their cognitive abilities, work ethic and other intangibles would well qualify them for the experience. Some of these children don’t get into college at all. That seems unfair, but such is life. At the very least, it is sad. In fact, one of the saddest things in life is unfulfilled potential.

I have begun to look at technology in this light. We constantly hear about how wonderful next-generation technology is going to be, whether it is LTE or NG-911. Surely, such platforms will deliver capabilities that in some cases will boggle the mind. At the least, they will make first responders much more effective and keep them safer — both being worthy goals.

Of course, that will happen only if such technologies actually are deployed. They will be by large agencies in major metropolitan areas that possess the wherewithal to do so. But many more agencies will go lacking. The economic recovery is moving at a pace that is much slower than expected. It could take years — possibly decades — for the recovery to occur fully. In the meantime, many agencies will struggle just to maintain current operations. For them, migrating to next-generation systems will be unthinkable. This likely will be the case for a very long time.

If you doubt that, recall that what we have experienced during the past three years is the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Now consider that, despite the success of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” which birthed such programs as the Works Progress Administration (putting millions of Americans to work building bridges, dams and roads) and Social Security, the recovery needed the outbreak of World War II (reinvigorating long-dormant factories) to really accelerate. This time around, it’s going to take a while — a long while.

Until the economic recovery happens, the potential of next-generation technology will go unfulfilled to some degree. That’s why I’m excited by what Tiburon is doing with its hosted NG-911 service (see story). Making advanced capabilities available in such a manner will get them into the hands of agencies that otherwise would be limited to dreaming about them.

The first customer of the service, Colorado County, Texas, would be a suitable poster child for the type of agency that Tiburon had in mind for this offering. The county has about 20,000 inhabitants scattered across roughly a thousand square miles that are covered by three officers on each shift. The county’s sheriff described the capabilities of the new service — otherwise impossible due to budgetary constraints — in terms of “light and dark” when compared to its current capabilities.

Here’s hoping that other vendors follow Tiburon’s lead.

*Updated 11/04/2010

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