Automation has permanently altered the way our society and economy operate. Much of our day-to-day lives has become heavily reliant on automation, from how we pay our bills to the way our food is produced and transportation needs are met. While there is little question as to how it has helped make our lives infinitely more efficient, enjoyable and easier, automation also has been incredibly disruptive to industries. As more and more technology and automation are implemented in virtually every industry, what are the implications for the public sector? And in what ways will automation impact law enforcement?

What does automation in law enforcement currently look like?

In a resource-strapped industry such as law enforcement, the automation that certain technologies could bring to officers is invaluable. Officers and first responders spend much of their time writing reports and performing other routine administrative tasks. These tasks can currently be supplemented with auto-population features that enable officers to spend less time at their desk and more time in the community. However, it is time to push past what automation can do for administrative tasks and utilize what it can do when it comes to data sharing.    

What does the future of automation look like?

Automating data sharing through computer aided dispatch (CAD) systems would be extremely beneficial to law enforcement agencies. In situations in which an officer is down, an active shooter has entered a public building or other incidents where joint response is required – no matter if it happens once a month, once a year or once in a lifetime – first responders need the connectivity and collaboration that automated data sharing can bring.

Currently, minimal CAD-to-CAD communication exists between agencies, as there is caution about sharing sensitive information. This is where the data controls of an interconnected CAD-to-CAD network come in. For most day-to-day incidents, agencies can decide against sharing anything. But in the event of a major emergency, agencies on an interconnected CAD-to-CAD can have the assurance that they will be able to instantly share the critical incident information with necessary parties at the push of a button. A CAD-to-CAD network would make sure incident information is visible to necessary agencies so response can be coordinated in an organized fashion.

How does that work?

CentralSquare provides this type of network effect with its CAD-to-CAD network. During a mutual-aid emergency, such as a chemical spill from a manufacturing plant, agencies can go into the CAD portal and automatically see a unified view of all responding units and their current status. A commander could draw a geo-fence on a map and pinpoint the location of the incident command managing operations or notate a hazmat decontamination area so everyone responding can see where everyone is and where critical locations are situated. In the event of a mass casualty incident, agencies can view other units on a map and organize the ambulances that are taking the victims away. It’s much more organized when you can see all the information in a single location rather than have the dispatchers call each other to try and figure it out.

Should law enforcement officers be open to automation?

Law enforcement should be very interested in how automation can benefit them, especially how an interconnected CAD network can assist during larger events. As technology continues to progress and transform standard processes, many long-established workflows are seeing significant improvement, and resources are being utilized much more efficiently. It is during those major events, when confusion reigns and people are looking to first responders for help, that an interconnected CAD-to-CAD network adds an extra safety layer, an extra tool to provide agencies with the most streamlined, effective response.