New threats and recurring challenges often mark the start of a new year, placing greater demand on law enforcement and public safety agencies to remedy them. Though much is unknown about the future, public safety professionals should be aware of the following challenges and opportunities in 2020:
1. Transition to intuitive UX:
A majority of consumer products such as smartphones, smart TVs and mobile apps seek to ensure the user’s experience is as streamlined and intuitive as possible. As more and more young officers join the ranks and current officers rely on technology during their shifts, there is an expectation that public safety technology tools and applications will function, interact and have a UX similar to what officers have access to outside of the job. This includes their smart devices, swiping left and right when making decisions and being presented with relative information through notifications rather than on demand.
2. Prioritization of new compliance rules:
2020 is the last year for law enforcement agencies to make the transition to the federally mandated NIBRS reporting before the January 1, 2021 deadline. As the availability of federal grants and funding increases, agencies will have greater opportunity to fund data-sharing initiatives and adopt newer systems, such as Next Generation 911 (NG911), FirstNet and ESInet.
3. Using tech to help reduce officer stress:
It’s no question that public safety personnel face traumatic situations on a near daily basis, if not several times a day. But what was once considered as an unavoidable feature of the job no longer has to be the case. More and more agencies will have the opportunity in 2020 to look for a way to reduce officer exposure to frequent and recurring emotionally and physically stressful incidents that occur in rapid succession. More sophisticated computer aided dispatch systems can “monitor” officer exposure and incorporate this into recommendations when sending officers to calls. For example, if an officer has recently concluded his work at a traffic fatality, if resources allow, dispatchers can send a different officer to a subsequent domestic disturbance call.
4. Rapid incorporation of emerging technologies:
The continued integration and adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are likely to be among the most prominent changes to public safety technology in the upcoming decade. AI/ML can help augment crime investigations by providing officers with critical information of related incidents within their jurisdiction and surrounding area, sort through video and surveillance footage rapidly to identify suspects as well as spot dangerous counterfeit goods.
Overall, the new year presents many opportunities through technology for public safety agencies to overcome new and old challenges. By incorporating and utilize technology more efficiently, agencies can benefit their officers, citizens and communities alike.