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Motorola CTO Talks About the Benefits of Decentralization

Most public safety agencies cannot afford big command centers, but new technology is helping smaller agencies build decentralized versions. As Motorola kicks off its Summit 2023, Mahesh Saptharishi talks about gov tech trends.

An emergency response vehicle on a street at night with its emergency lights illuminated.
One of the hottest trends in public safety technology is the move toward so-called decentralized command centers, according to Mahesh Saptharishi, executive vice president and CTO at Motorola Solutions.

He spoke to Government Technology in advance of this week’s Summit 2023 in Orlando, the annual conference for users of the company’s public safety technology. Saptharishi is scheduled to address attendees in Tuesday’s opening session.

The summit takes place as public safety agencies are moving toward software and gear that can provide precise details about emergency situations, from the people involved to the layout of buildings to real-time video and other data. The summit also comes during a period of gov tech growth: As Motorola CEO Greg Brown recently said, “this is the strongest demand environment I’ve ever seen.”

Among the contributions that Motorola is trying to make to this part of the gov tech industry is using its products to connect disparate agencies.

While very large local governments — think New York City, for example — might employ state-of-the-art command centers, smaller agencies tend to lack them.

“But the people who respond to an incident are equally capable, with the same skill sets,” Saptharishi said. “What they are missing is the notion of someone behind the scenes staring at the wall with maps and real-time info.”

But advances in public safety technology are helping to solve that problem, he said, with the latest gear and software creating what amounts to a decentralized command center, one that is scaled and sized to particular agencies.

The summit this year takes place in the aftermath of yet another school shooting — this one in Nashville. Saptharishi pointed to the company’s late 2022 acquisition of Rave Mobile Safety when talking about how public safety technology suppliers can craft better responses to those incidents, and perhaps help prevent them.

“One of the things that Rave has in its portfolio is the ability to prepare for incidents,” he said.

That includes tools that offer 3D renderings of buildings, including exits and entrances, the ability to build profiles of people involved in emergencies and fixed cameras that can detect when someone approaches with a gun, which can trigger a lockdown.
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in Wisconsin.