Public safety agencies continually strive to improve their effectiveness and responsiveness to incidents in their jurisdictions. With increased attention on homeland security programs, these agencies demand better interdepartmental and interagency communications with important personnel, including police officers and first responders in the field.

Mobile applications supporting police, fire, and medical response units have transitioned from simple text and voice to rich multimedia applications. Real-time video, maps with satellite imagery, Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking, and global database searches are now available in handheld devices that first responders carry with them in the field. In today’s technological sphere, public safety agencies are leveraging these new capabilities and extending their existing applications in order to enhance the efficiency and delivery of high-quality services.

Public safety officers need to communicate transparently with headquarters when the vehicle is stationary and in motion. They must be able to maintain connectivity to the network either in the vehicle or while on foot. Providing network coverage on scene for mobile vehicles or nomadic officers is critical for both officer and public safety.

With new mobility solutions such as in-vehicle IP devices and mobile command centers, public safety agencies can:

  • Improve situational awareness and allow officers to make better decisions more quickly using real-time communications
  • Increase network reliability and ensure connections while on scene or in motion
  • Extend office network to the incident so that officers can access remote broadband applications for first responders
  • Secure information and ensure that all information shared between Emergency Operations Centers and first responders remains confidential
  • Provide a standards-based network platform to enable communications interoperability.

Public safety agencies around the country have embraced emerging mobility solutions to tackle new challenges. For instance, the Sheriff’s Office in Monmouth County, New Jersey wanted to provide its first responders with greater situational awareness and access to sensitive information while working on-scene. By implementing mobile command centers and installed additional security measures, including firewalls, officers are able to view information and surveillance of large-scale incidents immediately. Through new video capabilities, the Sheriff’s Office is able to assist local and national news coverage in the event of an emergency.

The threats to public safety are ever changing. And in order to be one step ahead of our adversaries and circumstances, we need to be smart, nimble, and creative. We need to be visionaries and look beyond what currently exists in our public safety system. For instance, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has developed a technology center to function as a comprehensive resource for law enforcement agencies. Therefore, by embracing new technological trends in mobility, we will equip public safety officers with the tools and skills they need to do their jobs effectively and safely.

If you missed this week’s live webcast on creating a unified, interoperable public safety IT environment, you can View it On-Demand Now.

And be sure to check in for all our upcoming Friday blogs on the latest trends, challenges and technologies impacting public safety. Follow the hashtag #CiscoPublicSafety and @CiscoStateLocal and @CiscoGovt on Twitter for updates, and visit the Cisco Public Safety site for more information on solutions.


Bob Stanberry

Senior Law Enforcement Advisor