SaaS Driving Next Generation Emergency Response
By – Alex Richardson
The transition toward SaaS, a shift, while very much underway in the consumer and commercial sectors, has been picking up pace significantly over the last year in the public safety sector. Historically, agencies in the United States in this case, had been very hesitant to deploy solutions via anything other than on premises. A confluence of factors is catalyzing this shift, and it was evident at shows such as International Wireless Communications Exhibition (IWCE) and International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), that the emergency response software market is heading in a new direction.
The core emergency response technologies, computer-aided dispatch and records management software, are increasingly beginning to be deployed via SaaS. Discussions with these vendors during the IACP conference in Orlando, Florida, United States indicated varying degrees of adoption. Some smaller to mid-sized vendors such as Mark43 and Omnigo had 100% and 90% of new clients deploying SaaS based CAD and RMS. Larger vendors such as Motorola also noticed an increasing shift.
A further trend picking up substantial pace this year was integration capability and analytical functionality. Several vendors including Motorola and Hexagon were offering subscription-based services to products that integrate data from CAD, RMS, surveillance cameras, sensors and other sources onto a common platform. A key goal with these platforms was to leverage and pull together data from all existing infrastructure and systems, and bring the data onto one screen. Analytics could then be applied to the data to highlight where crime was a recurring issue, allowing law enforcement to better allocate personnel in the field. Overall, this signals a shift from responsive policing to predictive and preventative policing, and technology is driving that change.
The future for emergency response solutions deployed via SaaS looks bright. Firstly, law enforcement is becoming more open to SaaS due to a better understanding of the functionality, security features and cost and operational benefits of these solutions. Secondly, public safety technology oriented initiatives such as Next generation 911 and FirstNet, are driving a wide-scale revamp to emergency communications both technologically and operationally. With next generation 911, proprietary infrastructure is often replaced with hardware and software that has more open architecture. Open systems are more scalable, provide standard interfaces for integration, are less costly to maintain and offer desirable new features. Additionally, they can be shared among multiple agencies when based on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communication systems.
Solutions deployed via SaaS go hand-in-hand with the aforementioned initiatives, because they promote interoperability and multi-agency collaboration, and can address the current gap between capabilities of emergency response technology and what is available in the consumer/ commercial sector. There is a huge focus on using business intelligence for public safety to improve operations, resourcing and dispatching efficiency. SaaS is a technology that facilitates the solutions to tackle those challenges, and 2019 will likely be an important year for the continued development of next generation emergency response technology solutions.