Daily routines among law enforcement are filled with challenges, risks and threats that range from walking into the unknown, undergoing highly stressful situations and the potential of physical harm. Imagine a world where technology has the opportunity to reduce the threat level of these pain points for law enforcement personnel. Through increased data collection, more streamlined communication and enhanced situational awareness, prioritizing mobility is a valuable tool in solving some of law enforcement’s most challenging questions.

How mobility enhances situational awareness

Situational awareness is a very common pain point within law enforcement, from making sure first responders have information about the location to history of the location, as well as knowledge of the people with whom they are interacting. While technologies have been designed to help increase situational awareness, some agencies lack technology that connects personnel to software and systems when outside their vehicle.

For agencies seeking to improve situational awareness for their frontline personnel, features such as mobile alerts to particular areas of concern can reduce the risk of unknown hazards when responding to a call for service. For example, if a specific location is tagged within CAD or RMS as having a resident with health issues such as diabetes, an alert will pop up for the officer to be aware before responding to a call. Similarly, if an officer runs an NCIC query which results in a warrant or wanted person, that information is highlighted so they don’t have to spend time sorting through data to gain a full understanding of the situation as it unfolds.

How mobility streamlines communication

Communicating important, evolving details is a major challenge for law enforcement personnel. If a device only works while inside a vehicle, then an officer is not receiving important information, or she has to rely completely on the radio to obtain critical incident information. Today, however, most agencies are trying to reduce radio chatter as much as possible, meaning an officer might not hear a critical piece of information as she’s approaching what could be a dangerous situation.  Officers need something that works outside of the vehicle in order to get those rapidly evolving details as they develop.

If the technology is limited to in-vehicle use, how do agencies maintain data flow between dispatch units or continue coordination between teams when an officer leaves the vehicle? In terms of streamlining communication, NCIC state query integration in certain handhelds and tablets is one of the  most effective ways to reduce radio traffic. This integration facilitates searches of people and license plates via the tools officers have available in the field, like their handhelds and tablets. It also alleviates the need to wait and run searches from their vehicle or when they’re back at the office. Keeping data flow reliably consistent between all the key players is the main goal of equipping personnel with tools that help facilitate better communication.

How mobility increases information and data collection

Beyond communication and situational awareness, the functionality and tools that personnel may need outside of the vehicle are critically important to a responding officer. Typically, when first responders leave the vehicle, they are reliant on more traditional methods of evidence and information collection such as using pen and paper or a camera. In these cases where mobile technology isn’t utilized, first responders and public safety agencies lose the opportunity to capture evidence, crime scene photos, and witness and victim statements on the spot.

With proper mobile tools, an officer essentially has a small computer in her pocket, giving her the ability to expand her capabilities like scan a driver’s license, take a picture and upload it to a case file or access floor plans to a building.

How is technology solving those pain points?

The primary objective of mobility in public safety is to extend the functionality of technology tools for officers, EMS and firefighters beyond the vehicle and office. When officers no longer need to rely primarily on the technologies inside their vehicle or office to gain insight into warrant alerts or rapidly evolving communications, it allows them to spend more time being visible within their community, which can help drive down crime.

In addition, by prioritizing mobility within the officers’ toolkits, agencies are better prepared to recruit and retain the next generation of public safety personnel, as newer officers expect to use the same mobile technology they use in their personal lives. The innovation invested in now will pave the way for what public safety will look like in the future in 2025, 2030 and beyond. Mobility empowers agencies to take these common, major pain points within law enforcement and significantly reduce them to keep officers and communities safer.