As French safety officials pieced together information following the attacks in Paris at the hands of ISIS, there’s no doubt they meticulously tracked witnesses interviewed, items recovered from the crime scenes and other helpful notes for the ensuing investigation. While the U.S. has robust security practices, often local police are still writing field interview notes by hand and thus would be sifting through stacks of notecards full of information – hardly helpful for putting the pieces together until they’ve been logged in a database. The private sector is rapidly developing solutions for law enforcement, however, and when FirstNet is built out, there will be a network to unify those communications – safely and securely, if current plans hold.
Here are just two advances that will greatly enhance law enforcement’s communications efforts. Haystax Technology recently introduced its Mobile Field Interview™ application, enabling public safety personnel to capture field interview (FI) information from an iOS or Android device. Rather than relying on cumbersome, inefficient paper notecards, law enforcement officials can conduct these FIs through the app and sync the resulting notes to the cloud. Indexed FIs become viewable and searchable by other members of the organization, resulting in increased information sharing and efficiency.
Another product unveiled recently is Mutualink’s Wearable Smart Gateway (WSG), the world’s first wearable for first responders. The WSG, powered by the tiny, low-power Intel® Edison™ chip, is the first in a series of devices emerging from the Internet of Public Safety Things (IoPST). This palm-sized, high-performance multimedia gateway will reduce response times and help first responders coordinate more effectively.
Solutions like Mutualink’s WSG and Haystax’s Mobile Field Interview™ will soon have a home with the development of FirstNet, a first-of-its kind broadband network dedicated to public safety, providing a single, interoperable platform for emergency and daily safety communications. The network will enable public safety officials and first responders to send and receive data, video, images and text – all on one shared network. This exclusive network will provide a shared operating picture and increased situational awareness, further improving emergency response times and increased efficacy during emergencies.
Our first responders have an incredibly difficult job as it is; their communication and coordination shouldn’t be hampered by outdated technology or an unreliable, insecure network. Connectivity and speed are critical; so is security. We need to ensure FirstNet is built with security in mind from the ground up, for without security, the network’s effectiveness is severely compromised. It’s possible to engineer both speed and reliability into FirstNet, and that’s what we need to do. Then new apps and products coming to market will be even more valuable, as emergency responders will have the benefit of a robust, secure network. The private sector is great at innovating, and it’s good to see that innovation directed toward law enforcement. Now we just need the network to bring it all together – securely.