2018 will go down as a landmark year for public safety.
In the 50th anniversary year of the US 9-1-1 system, the industry received a breakthrough for 9-1-1 infrastructure that allowed every PSAP across the country to receive life-saving data from connected devices. For the first time, thousands of PSAPs started receiving fast, accurate device location from Apple and Google for hundreds of millions of wireless phones at no cost with RapidSOS Portal.
Here’s a video with a recap of our milestones in 2018.
Jamison Peevyhouse, President of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), highlighted a few of the trends that shaped the industry in 2018:
As this decade draws to a close, the public’s vision of emergency response will be squarely focused on the Communications Center. Just look at the changes in the past year:
A heightened expectation for response to active shooting events
Wearable devices were a top selling gift for Christmas 2018
A heightened expectation of emergency notification for natural and manmade disasters
An opioid pandemic that is affecting nearly every family
Nearly every new vehicle now has LTE service built in
Low Power LTE devices are proliferating through all business sectors
FirstNet-type networks are being deployed
Federal legislation focused on NG9-1-1 funding
What will the next year hold for the public safety industry?
Through the transition to the smartphone era, the 9-1-1 location challenge was one of the greatest obstacles to providing effective emergency response services. Now that a solution exists for locations, the industry can focus on the 9-1-1 data challenge.
“Additional Data Repositories (ADR) will be more important to the NG PSAP than ALI was for 9-1-1.”
-Jamison Peevyhouse, NENA President
Connected devices collect a massive amount of data that can be life-saving in an emergency, from wearable device medical information to smart home environmental information to connected car crash data. Allowing PSAPs and first responders in the field to access and operationalize this rich data constitutes the 9-1-1 data challenge. We expect major advancements in this area during 2019, just as 2018 brought a breakthrough for location.
We’ve collected predictions for what the public safety community can expect in 2019 from experienced and progressive experts inside and outside the PSAP. Take a look to learn what trends your PSAP can prepare for over the next 12 months.
Public Safety Predictions for 2019
The 9-1-1 Data Challenge
Jamison Peevyhouse, ENP and President, National Emergency Number Association
Additional Data Repositories (ADR) will be more important to the NG PSAP than ALI was for 9-1-1. And just as it was for ALI, there will most likely only be one or two national aggregation points (or providers) for this data to which the PSAP will connect. This places an immense burden of responsibility on our public sector partners to build new relationships with data providers on a continual basis. The ALI data that we have been working with for decades has always been a public sector product provided by the consumer and validated by the PSAP. Tomorrow’s landscape isn’t much different: A public sector product with data provided by the consumer with the geospatial validation provided by the PSAP.
Tom Guthrie, VP of Public Safety Operations, RapidSOS
In 2019, video and multimedia will enter the PSAP in controlled environments. To do this responsibly, technology experts should collaborate closely with PSAP leadership and carefully consider the psychological impact on telecommunicators. Additional training, preparation, and specialized roles may be necessary to safely and effectively use this information in emergency response.
Amy Marion, 9-1-1 Coordinator, Peoria County 911
In 2019, AI and social media insights will be found in some PSAPs as a way to monitor ongoing situations or respond to anticipated situations. The use of both of these technologies will require careful planning and monitoring for how these tools can and should be used. Liability and privacy issues are concerns. However, used in the appropriate way and in the correct environment the potential for insight during events such as natural disasters, riots, mass casualty situations, and other critical incidents could improve public safety responses dramatically.
Next Generation Infrastructure
TJ Kennedy, Founder of the Public Safety Network and Former FirstNet President
In 2019 I believe public safety will leverage rich data in the field due to the proliferation of first responders being equipped with reliable and resilient public safety LTE. The desire to have better situational awareness from the PSAP will drive the increase in consumption of mobile life-saving data in 2019.
Michael Martin, CEO and Co-Founder, RapidSOS
Additional data will move beyond location to a variety of rich, situational information. The 9-1-1 system will expand its data sources, including connected car, smart home, wearable, and industrial sensor devices. The type of data available to telecommunicators will diversify across telematics, environmental conditions, medical information, user profiles, multimedia, and more. We will look back on device location as the tip of the iceberg for the Internet of Life-Saving Things. Operationalizing this data within the PSAP will require an emergency data platform to consolidate and evaluate information from a variety of sources.
Jeff Robertson, GM of Public Safety, RapidSOS
2019 will be the year of breaking down data barriers between agencies. Challenges with routing and sharing information on emergencies across jurisdictions during critical moments came under examination last year. Next generation infrastructure will allow agencies to seamlessly share data, without requiring verbal explanation over the phone that requires time and involves user error. This applies to communication between PSAPs as well as first responders in the field.
Karin Marquez, Director of Customer Success Management, RapidSOS
As public safety agencies continue to find new funding methods for existing solutions and updates to NG911 infrastructure, they will begin to adopt new data sources to help drive decisions on their calls for service. A data rich “request for emergency service” helps improve call processing times, response times, and service levels. NG911 has built real momentum and will become a reality much sooner than many may think based on the past15 years.
Wellness Inside the PSAP
Carl Loerzel, Jr., Deputy Commissioner, Onondaga County Department of Emergency Communications
I believe in 2019 the biggest impact is the continued challenge of taking care of our own. It is always hard for our people to admit if something is bothering them and that is something we have to understand better. The other part will be technology. As we start getting enhanced data what do we do with the images/videos we might receive through text services? It is one thing taking a call, but seeing it is a whole other thing. The expectation from our citizens will be there, so we need to do something but also look after our people.
Tracy Eldridge, Public Safety Community Engagement Manager, RapidSOS
The stigma of PTSD in the PSAP will lift, and seeking help when needed will become the rule and not the exception. Too many 9-1-1 telecommunicators don’t realize that they are suffering from PTSD. Anything can become a trigger for telecommunicators with PTSD, from a specific place to a sound or smell. In 2019, we need to work to provide PSAP directors and telecommunicators with the tools to recognize and combat PTSD.
Jamison Peevyhouse, ENP and President, National Emergency Number Association
Adequate levels of competent staffing will be the most significant challenge in 2019 and for years to come. The hiring, scheduling, and retention landscape within Communications Centers will need to take an evolutionary leap forward. Salary levels are a singular component of a complex equation in the coming years. Even at the close of 2018, we began looking at staffing models used by Uber and Lyft for surge capacity and retention programs that include offering college credit for training and education. Combine our Call Answering and CAD products being delivered in a SaaS model and access to public safety grade 4G and 5G networks, and our call overflow models could easily be directed to on-call employees or to on-call, virtual TERT teams. As we hire in the coming months, it is imperative that we look just beyond the horizon and think about the kind of employee we will need to ensure competent operations. I believe that staffing will drive more consolidations of PSAPs in the coming years than all other reasons combined.