Jeff Frazier & Norman Jacknis, Cisco IBSG
Protection is a public service and one that can only effectively be carried out with the support and consent — and participation — of the people. We’ve read stories about how Twitter played a key role in responding to wildfires or iPhone applications show a community map of registered sex offenders and crime areas.
But in public safety, especially, there is a unique source of participants – one that is especially important in these days of tighter state/local budgets. In California, for example, there are nearly 190,000 sworn active public safety officers (police and fire). However, there are nearly a million retired and former officers. This represents, on average, nearly 15 million years of skills and experience walking the streets. This population of people never lost their purpose or their desire to contribute — they just ran out of time!
How can we harness this trusted population? A local government could create an “opt-in” network of these experienced citizens. Typically, public safety training records are centralized through a central state body. A database comparison of the records can be matched against the ‘opt-in’ application.
Once accepted, the officer will receive instantaneous alerts on his cell phone, based on its GPS location, about reported problems. When a problem is reported, the public safety dispatcher would have the ability to examine a geo-spatial screen and discover how many people are in a particular area and who best to solicit or notify.
Governments across the country should enable this skilled population to support public safety problem-solving, in order to identify, recognize, and address problems much faster.