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Public Safety Experts Weigh in on PSAP Trends for 2017

Author: Linda Haelsen, NICE Public Safety

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

Date: 2017-02-20
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If your head is spinning from all the changes underway in the Public Safety industry, you’re not alone. NG9-1-1 and Public Safety LTE are poised to radically transform emergency communications as PSAPs become touchpoints for managing more types and greater volumes of multimedia information. Recently, I sat down with some of the leading Public Safety experts at NICE and asked them to weigh in on these and other key trends they’re seeing. Here’s what they had to say.

Stephen Benwell, VP of Product, Public Safety, NICE
“In 2017, we’re going to see a lot more focus on building out private broadband LTE networks for public safety which will enable rich data applications, such as video, utilized by the control rooms and responder devices. These broadband networks may initially be used for data, such as FirstNet in the USA, or in the case of the UK’s ESN (Emergency Services Network), to replace legacy radio systems for voice communication. It’s going to be interesting to see how PSAPs and Control Rooms respond to these changes and deal with the challenge of managing and sharing this new data with first responders.

Another hot trend for 2017 is the increasing acceptance and adoption of ‘the Cloud’ as a secure, scalable solution for hosting PSAP applications and data. Cloud solutions promise richer functionality, more flexibility, and greater resiliency, plus a more flexible payment structure without a large up-front capital expense. 

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Today, PSAPs operate many different systems – for example 9-1-1 call taking, CAD, dispatch consoles and recording systems – as loosely integrated technologies on their premises. As we move into the future, these solutions are going to more likely be provided as pre-integrated SaaS (Software as a Service) applications hosted in secure cloud environments.

In 2017 I believe we’re also going to see continued build out of ESInets and also continued adoption of Text-to-911. At last count, as of February 2, 2017, there were now 802 PSAPs on the FCC’s PSAP Text-to-911 Readiness and Certification Registry list, compared to 500 in March of last year, and 121 in early 2015.”

Clive Wall, Product Manager, Public Safety, NICE
“On the NG9-1-1 and FirstNet fronts, there are no doubt legislative and technical challenges ahead, but progress is definitely being made! NG9-1-1 and FirstNet are the two halves of the Public Safety request and response activities, with the nerve center being the PSAP. NG9-1-1 and FirstNet will produce an entirely new landscape for dealing with emergency calls. The secret to success will be in the ability to securely coalesce the wide array of new, life-critical information, into an easily digestible format that can be absorbed in emergency situations.

With NG9-1-1 and FirstNet, emergency incidents will produce vast amounts of incoming data. The problem is – too much information is just as bad as no information. So the key is to get the right information to the right people at the right time. In the future, new applications will apply intelligent analytics to identify and distill relevant data, and package it up in a concise manner so First Responders can quickly digest it.”

Diamond Chaflawee, Director of Business Development, Public Safety, NICE
“The move toward IP networks in Public Safety is creating tremendous opportunities for PSAPs and first responders in terms of improving service and increasing efficiency, but it will create new challenges as well. 

First, the upside. IP networks are bringing the Internet of Things (IoT) to Public Safety, enabling connectivity to greater numbers of sensors and devices that have the potential to deliver life-saving alerts and information. OnStar is just one example. Imagine an automatic alert to 9-1-1 from an implanted heart monitor. 

There’s also an industry-wide push to develop of wearable devices for first responders – from simple devices for checking a victim’s temperature, heart rate and vitals to more sophisticated wearable solutions (for firefighters for example) that integrate physiological monitoring, location and biometric data. This data has obvious real-time value in terms of improving PSAP/command center situational awareness, but it can also provide vital insights into what happened during an incident, why things happened as they did, and how they can be improved upon next time. This also points to the need to capture, synchronize and analyze this information for post incident reconstruction and operational insight.

Greater connectivity has downsides too. IP networks have inherent security risks. And as more IoT devices connect to more Public Safety IP networks, the security challenges will intensify. NENA, APCO, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and other industry groups have all weighed in on approaches to address this problem.”

Patrick Botz, Director of Engagement, NICE Public Safety
“Consistent 9-1-1 Quality Assurance and Improvement (QA/QI) is no longer a nice-to-have. As Public Safety agencies transition to NG9-1-1 and are handling a greater volume and variety of multimedia communications, Quality Assurance/Quality Improvement will become a must-have for risk mitigation, ongoing training and staff retention. To help make ‘9-1-1 QA Every Day’ a reality, there are now easy-to-follow APCO/NENA QA standards and productivity-boosting QA software tools like NICE Inform Evaluator that can help automate call selection, scoring and reporting workflow – so QA reviews can be completed more objectively, and in half the time.

9-1-1 centers also need operational insights to deal with every-day challenges like ensuring community safety, gauging appropriate staffing and boosting employee retention. The raw data has always been there in the siloed radio and telephony recording, Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) and quality assurance systems. But the insights are hidden. The real challenge is bringing the data from these silos together to unlock hidden insights. To address this challenge, NICE will soon be introducing the world’s first Incident Intelligence dashboards that combine all of these data sources to give PSAP managers the near real-time operational intelligence they need to make decisions to positively impact service quality, staffing and retention.”

Linda Haelsen is the Marketing Communications Manager for NICE Public Safety, with experience spanning two decades. Linda joined NICE Systems following the acquisition of Dictaphone where Linda had served as Marketing Communications Director. Linda has published articles in many trade journals on topics spanning physical security, public safety, and customer relationship management.

For information on NICE Systems, see: www.nice.com 

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