The circle of data is key to public safety

Johannesburg, 05 Nov 2020
Read time 3min 50sec
Katja Millard, Senior Director of Devices, Motorola Solutions.
Katja Millard, Senior Director of Devices, Motorola Solutions.

The three main challenges facing every industry across every sector include a global pandemic, ever-increasing volumes of data to manage and greater demand to do more with limited resources. The public safety sector faces the added stressors of its resources being redeployed for COVID-19-related purposes and increased antagonism towards its members.

In South Africa, attacks on EMS personnel, police and private security guards are increasing now that these employees are additionally tasked with enforcing lockdown restrictions on members of the public. COVID-19 has spurred increased aggression towards emergency services workers, who need to manage increasing volumes of data while dealing with ever more complex crimes. Motorola Solutions Regional Vice President Europe, Michael Kaae, says: “The safety of frontline workers is paramount, and as much as police officers and EMS personnel need to be able to communicate with one another while responding to an incident, so too does their technology.”

In order for frontline responders to communicate instantaneously and clearly while dealing with the safety of others, technologies such as radios, body-worn video cameras and smartphones need to be able to share information, empowering the personnel to respond effectively in the heat of the moment, while enabling them to connect seamlessly with a broader ecosystem of technologies.

“Frontline workers, now more than ever, need systems that aren’t siloed and that talk to one another. The global pandemic has amplified the challenging environment in which public safety organisations operate, requiring them to manage public safety issues while maintaining social distancing.”

Michael Kaae, Regional Vice President Europe, Motorola Solutions.
Michael Kaae, Regional Vice President Europe, Motorola Solutions.

Radio is the primary means of connecting the frontline worker with the control room and colleagues. However, they also make use of smartphones, body-worn video cameras and laptops in their vehicles to access and share information about incidents.

Katja Millard, Senior Director of Devices at Motorola Solutions, says: “While frontline professionals will always need their radio in high-stress situations to serve as their lifeline, these need to be able to collaborate with the other devices that they require without compromising the security or reliability of their radio voice communications. Thus creating an ecosystem of communication that allows them to respond effectively in the heat of the moment, while giving them the flexibility to connect to other systems that can provide valuable insight into the situation they’re currently in.”

The ability to integrate data from the user’s radio, smartphone, bodycam and laptop means the responder can receive and send audio and video data on the incident, updating both the frontline worker and the control room. The ability to maintain this circle of data is crucial. All of this data, together with recorded voice reports, can be used post-incident to generate reports.

“Products for the frontline need to be simple to use so the officer can focus on the heat of the moment without having to focus on tricky technology. It must be easy to find the right button without looking at the device,” says Millard.

The ability to connect devices means that instead of handling multiple devices simultaneously, they can activate other devices through the one that feels most natural and intuitive to use in that situation. For example, if a police officer presses the emergency button on their radio in a life-threatening situation, it should be able to automatically activate the body-worn camera.

All of this connectivity is enabled through the use of Bluetooth 5 and near-field communications technology, which enable device pairing, allowing the user to even add a headset to his arsenal of technology, should they so desire. This type of capability is expected by today’s frontline workers.

“The millennials and post-millennials that are filling these types of roles grew up in a digitally connected world and expect a hyper-connected world of devices to be connected to them in the fulfilment of their roles. They want intuitive technology that fits into the fourth industrial evolution that’s occurring everywhere else in the world that they occupy,” says Kaae.

“The aim is to mitigate the risk to frontline workers by ensuring their insurance policy – their radio – keeps them safe and assists them in effectively managing a situation.”

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