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The Future of Public Safety

In today’s installment of our #FutureofPublicSector series, we explore the myriad of challenges threatening public safety and the technology solutions that are emerging as governments and public- sector leaders endeavor to keep citizens, cities and nations safer than ever.

by / February 20, 2020
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In today’s installment of our #FutureofPublicSector series, we explore the myriad of challenges threatening public safety and the technology solutions that are emerging as governments and public- sector leaders endeavor to keep citizens, cities and nations safer than ever.

Arguably one of the most pressing challenges for governments and public- sector agencies today is maintaining and enhancing public safety. Within the next 10 years according to one market data firm, the public safety market is expected to reach $38.98 billion: a stark increase from the $8.5 billion spent in 2018. Analysts attribute this demand to several factors: increasingly empowered citizens; changing demographics, like bursting populations and rapid urbanization; the growing threat of climate change and the consequential natural disasters that follow; dwindling resources –— both environmentally and economically; and, of course, unprecedented connectivity and data.

Evolving Threats in Public Safety

Much of community safety in the future will not just be about police and crime. It will be the power company predicting an outage before a life-threatening winter storm. Or the transportation department decreasing congestion to reduce hazardous air pollution. It will be the office of emergency management deploying sensors in remote locations to detect flash floods early.

With an increasing scope of threats, it is no surprise that public- sector and government leaders are turning to technology to solve the pressing challenges of today and prepare for those that will emerge in the future.

Tackling the Root Causes

Two fundamental challenges that have plagued community safety are the sharing of information and the coordination of response(s). While these two issues have been pervasive for years, technology has now matured significantly, such that there are now solutions to tackle these root causes and enable governments to coordinate faster responses, protect sensitive data and keep citizens safer.

Coordinating Faster Responses

When it comes to emergency response, every second counts. Some agencies, like the Department of Homeland Security in the United States, have developed community resilience strategies, which aim to ensure that all levels of government, the private and public sectors, and individual citizens are better prepared for and can quickly recover from harmful incidents.

While few community leaders have a challenge understanding or agreeing to resilience models like this, putting the public safety models into place and coordinating an efficient action plan during crisis situations —– like a targeted attack, natural disaster or accident —– can become very difficult, very quickly. A key to success is effective real-time communication and collaboration across the multiple parties involved in emergency response.

Saving Lives

For example, during a mass violence incident in Virginia, the University of Virginia (UVA) Telehealth team relied on telecommunications to coordinate effective triage management between the front-line responders dealing with the injured citizens, the central staff located at the emergency command centerre and health-care professionals throughout the institution. Cisco technology transformed the way they prepared for and reacted to this crisis.

Author: TJ Costello, Cisco

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