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Law Enforcement at the Edge - Three Ways Edge IT Improves Public Safety

Author: Jeff Chabot

Copyright: Copyright 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Date: 2017-07-31
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In recent years, technology has played a prominent role in protecting the public—particularly when it comes to new technology implementation within law enforcement agencies. A number of connected devices and technologies have gained traction within the public safety sector, including body camera technology, drones and biometric scanners. For example, the New York Police Department recently announced plans to equip all officers with body cameras by 2019. Additionally, in 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice dedicated $20 million to support the Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Pilot Partnership Program in the purchase of 50,000 body-worn cameras for law enforcement agencies. Investments in these technologies indicate that adoption is only expected to rise in the years ahead. 

While technology adoption is certainly positive momentum for making processes more efficient within police departments and public safety agencies, the technology can only work as well as the infrastructure in place to support it. Unfortunately, many of these agencies operate on outdated, legacy infrastructure that spans numerous precincts in large cities and often other areas of the state. As a result, already-taxed data center processing capabilities face added stress from these new technologies, which negatively impacts key technology benchmarks like latency and bandwidth.

As law enforcement officials look to advance efforts around public safety, instant access to real-time video, applications and data is crucial. Even minor lags in receiving critical information can cause significant roadblocks when it comes to public safety. Connectivity and real-time data transmission are key to making new technologies as efficient as possible—it’s tough to catch a criminal through video surveillance if the feed is delayed from a lag in transmitting and processing the data.

To better meet their data processing needs, many police departments are looking to the edge. With edge IT deployments, these agencies can bring computing closer to the end user, speeding access to data and ultimately improving their ability to keep the public safe. Three ways police department deployments of edge IT contribute to protecting the public include: 

Decreasing latency to speed response times: Real-time access to surveillance video is critical in assisting police officer response time to an incident or crime in progress. If there is a delay in the video due to a lag in data processing, police response is also delayed. Edge data centers process data closer to the end user, reducing latency and providing better support of high-bandwidth content produced by surveillance footage. By removing interruptions caused by latencies, police departments can ensure the public receives the quality of law enforcement it deserves.

Ensuring uptime in the event of an incident: With a centralized data center, if an unexpected power outage occurs, police phone lines and systems go down across every precinct, creating a much bigger ripple effect. By placing edge data centers within a specific precinct, system continuity remains intact and service interruptions are limited to just one location. Calls and system access can be transferred to a nearby police station, preventing any additional interruption. As agencies work to build redundancy into their networks for maximum uptime, edge IT provides both flexibility and constant access to the information necessary to ensure public safety.

Increasing storage capabilities to meet new data needs: With increased use of body cameras and continuous video footage—in addition to growing public records—adequate storage is more critical than ever before. Edge IT deployments offer the agility and scalability needed to manage data overflow, providing storage capabilities that are fast to deploy as data needs grow. Additionally, with edge data centers, storage is inserted directly on the edge of the network to lower transport time and improve the availability of critical information. As a result of deploying edge IT, public safety and law enforcement agencies can confidently store large amounts of video and other relevant information needed to protect and serve.

There is no doubt technology will continue to play a critical role in law enforcement as a growing number of devices become connected. As such, it is crucial that agencies consider an edge IT infrastructure to support both current and future needs brought about by data-intensive applications and devices in order to support real-time connectivity and always-on access. Edge IT deployments are a viable solution to solve latency-based issues and provide law enforcement officials with the connectivity and reliability necessary to ensure public safety


Jeff Chabot, is Director of Government Segment Strategy for APC by Schneider Electric, formerly known as American Power Conversion Corporation, a manufacturer of uninterruptible power supplies, electronics peripherals and data center products. 



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