Finally, the right tools for the job (with related video)
By Bob Schassler
Access to robust data and mission-critical applications in the field has become as vital to first responders as voice communications, moving from a “nice to have” to an essential capability. One reason is clear: With the public more connected and data-savvy than ever, expectations of what’s possible have changed with technology. Case in point: It takes 60 seconds to record a video on a mobile device and post it to YouTube. Given that, the public now expects that police officers standing outside a school on lockdown can access and view video from cameras inside the building. And they expect that first responders can bring the situation to a swift and safe conclusion by staying a step ahead of the bad guys.
Responders themselves rapidly are adopting new technology and expect to use it in the field. At an incident scene, firefighters need access to a wide variety of information. Does the building they are about to enter have a history of code violations? Could businesses inside be storing hazardous materials? EMS personnel need to be aware of everything from patient medical history to possible drug interactions. They also need to log every action and share data with hospital staff.
That is the real power public-safety LTE broadband communications promise to deliver — better connectivity and virtually unlimited mission-critical data directly on a responder’s handheld device, wherever and whenever it’s needed. But not just any device: An LTE device designed specifically to meet the needs of public-safety officers — no matter their role or title. This is the next evolution of public-safety LTE, a whole new category of crime-fighting solutions.
With an always-on public-safety broadband network connecting a multimedia command center to these new devices, first responders will be armed with powerful tools to meet new threats on the street. LTE handhelds will feature robust and secure data, mission-critical applications and rich multimedia content. IT staff will rely on tools that help deploy, track, monitor and manage devices in the field; they’ll even be able to lock and wipe a device that is lost or stolen. Rugged, reliable and designed as a true mission-critical public-safety device, LTE handhelds will offer enhanced durability, a streamlined user interface and support a wealth of tactical applications.
Just as the public now has access to more-sophisticated communications tools, so do criminals. Today, criminals have worldwide wireless communications, instant access to social networks and online tools that let them anonymously coordinate crimes ranging from international weapons smuggling to flash-mob attacks. To deal with these increasingly complex threats, police officers need new, more-capable crime-fighting tools that provide powerful situational awareness and better protection of citizens and property.
Accomplishing this is easier when you eliminate the element of surprise. LTE devices will help do that, and more, by allowing officers to receive urgent updates and quickly access video feeds and tactical applications. So when an incident occurs, officers can pan and zoom video cameras to capture faces for evidence. Even if the suspects attempt to escape, the entire sequence of events has been recorded, with details, locations and response tactics shared instantly across responding officers and agencies to facilitate quick arrests.
This year, we anticipate purpose-built, public-safety LTE devices will come to market at an accelerated pace. And agencies will continue to carefully evaluate how to add to existing capabilities wisely and cost-effectively. Leading the way will be those solutions that leverage standards-based components, deliver an improved user experience, include an ecosystem that supports innovative public-safety applications and improve interoperability between agencies.
Bob Schassler is senior vice president of radio solutions for Motorola Solutions.