The annual APCO conference proved again that it is a very busy and active industry event. From the numerous professional development tracks to the individual presentations to the business meetings to the local chapter meetings to the vendor sponsored activities, there was something of interest and benefit for everyone. For more information on a number of these sessions, you can visit PSC Online at https://psc.apcointl.org/.
There were, however, some notable topics that a large number of the attendees were discussing. The first was “Cloud computing”. The adoption of Cloud computing for public safety is gaining acceptance and momentum. A number of agencies have expressed interest in cloud-based Records Management Systems (RMS) but some have concerns about cloud-based Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) from the perspective of the functionality and features that are currently available in the cloud-based CAD systems. However, there seemed to be agreement that for a smaller agency without an IT staff, there are significant financial and operational benefits from this technology. 5G provides enough bandwidth and speed to run CAD effectively from the cloud, and provides the redundancy required for a public safety network. One of the big issues with Cloud computing is the lack of control especially as it deals with security and connectivity speeds required for public safety grade solutions. Cloud computing is seen primarily as assisting with the demands of implementing new technologies such as those involving Big Data, dealing with social media and smart city initiatives.
Another topic that was also the subject of a number of meetings and discussions was the aggregation of software vendors, as quite a number of public safety software companies (including some very large ones) have been acquired over the past several years. Obviously when one vendor is bought by another vendor, many questions are generated. One of the primary questions that people ask is “What about support for the acquired product”. Support questions discussed include:
- How will support change?
- What will the new support be like?
- How long will the new owner maintain support of the acquired software?
- What will the support include?
- What are the plans of the new owner?
- What new technologies are going to be supported?
It is generally agreed that when an agency is faced with this scenario, the impacted agency really needs to create and develop a plan to deal with this new reality just like they would with any change.
New Technology was certainly another hot topic this year. Many new technologies and enhancements that have the promise of great things for Public Safety were announced at APCO 2019. Many of the attendees saw the benefits of these new capabilities and are excited to be able to implement them as they see how they can assist them in meeting today’s challenges. However, as a group they commonly expressed several obstacles in the implementation of new technology – Funding and Staffing. Public Safety agencies have not been traditionally funded to implement new technology on an ongoing basis so that type of funding will require a significant change. Additionally, these new technologies require a different direction in staffing, especially when implementing and supporting Artificial Intelligence technologies such as crime analysis.
Winbourne Consulting always welcomes feedback from our customers and other newsletter readers with regard to our topics and observations. Our participation in industry conferences, such as APCO, provides us with new contacts and fresh perspectives that we use to the benefit of our public safety customers. For additional information, contact Winbourne Consulting at firstname.lastname@example.org.