April 17, 2018

Here’s how technology can give public safety a boost

By Rachel Eckert
SLED consultant
immixGroup, an Arrow company

 

State and local organizations have long suffered from a lack of resources and law enforcement and public safety departments are no exception.  

These organizations need to find alternative funding for upgrades to technology, equipment and resources to continue modernizing and improving the sense of community.

Many law enforcement and public safety departments would love to hire more officers to increase patrols, but funds are lacking. Technology like big data and analytics and the Internet of Things can increase their reach without stretching their budget. Solutions can help make sense of their data, increase their eyes and ears and become more proactive.

All of this comes with a balancing act. Considering several high-profile negative incidents with law enforcement over the past several years, organizations have a challenge in balancing their accountability and integrity with the public while making sure they are continuing to perform. They will need to make sure they are justifying the upgrades and spending in the court of public opinion. New methods and technology will need to produce quick wins if they hope to get positive feedback.

Big data and analytics

It’s no real surprise that law enforcement agencies already collect a great deal of information from patrol stops, tickets, incidents and crimes. But often these data are stored in disparate systems, which means that data just sits there. Housed on disparate systems makes retrieval difficult and interpretation even more so.

Leveraging a cloud-based solution can help these agencies migrate their data into one central shared information repository. Once in a central system, the data can be analyzed and combined with things like GIS data to form predictive map overlays that forecast where crime hot spots are most likely.

Many organizations have begun leveraging their own internal data to more effectively deploy police officers for patrols where there is higher likelihood of crime to help prevent crime rather than react. This is a key area that can really help law enforcement be more strategic with their resources. Not necessarily focusing on all areas equally, but narrowing in on those areas that need the most attention. Without the analysis of their own internal data, even identifying those areas could be tricky.

There will always be a need for that human element in policing, what the agencies need is way to automate and speed-up analysis. Many of these organizations have one or a handful of personnel manually analyzing the data to provide daily reports and recommendations. If you have a way to automate this process, this is a good opportunity for you to showcase your technology and how you can help them.

Internet of Things

Given that it is highly unlikely that organizations will be getting huge bumps in personnel to patrol and monitor their entire territory, they need to find ways to increase their eyes and ears and the Internet of Things (IoT) is one tool that can help. Through the deployment of sensors, cameras and other devices, IoT allows departments to monitor more areas with less personnel. Deploying a sensor or camera as a one-off can be a little pricey when you factor in the underlying infrastructure and network so often these devices are incorporated into larger initiatives under the “Smart Cities” umbrella, which means that police and sheriff’s departments don’t have to shoulder the entire budget burden alone.

In fact, most municipalities have incorporated smart cities initiatives into their planning. Typically, these initiatives start with blanketing the city in Wi-Fi and public connectivity, which is a perfect first step in ensuring law enforcement devices such as gunshot detection, cameras and police observation devices can collect and transmit the necessary data.

Your best opportunities will come from partnering with the niche IoT players with technology like gunshot detection to help them incorporate it into a larger solution play for the city. Presenting a city or department with a cohesive solution for deployment, data collection and data storage stands a better chance than one-off technology that will need to be worked into existing or newly purchased infrastructure.

Interested in seeing how your solutions can help law enforcement and public safety? Listen to my latest on-demand webinar on law enforcement challenges and how technology can play a role.