The Benefits of Mobile Innovation to First Responder Agencies

Octavio Hernandez

To innovate means doing something new and changing the way you work, and in today’s world, if you want to truly innovate, you need digital tools at your disposal to enable it. Anyone who has used a smartphone over the past decade will know about the kind of innovation that’s now possible with digital technology.

So what does innovation mean for a first responder working in a sheriff’s office, fire department or other public safety agency? Beyond what’s possible today with push-to-talk voice communications, mobile innovation puts rich sources of digital information into the hands of first responders such as emergency medical technicians, firefighters or police forces. In high-pressure emergency situations, being able to draw on actionable intel from an array of different sources such as real-time location data, or high-resolution images and video, can be the difference between lives saved and lives lost.


Enabling decisive action
For example, it can help paramedics to prioritize who among the casualties needs treatment first. Having access to patient data in real time can radically improve both the speed and accuracy of their decision making.

At an agency level, using mobile technology speeds up the time to gather information about a public emergency or crisis situation. They capture vital data as close to the incident as possible, while it’s still fresh in responders’ memory — or while the situation may be live. It also becomes much easier to share information digitally with other agencies as necessary, during and after an event.

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Productivity and efficiency boost
Inputting data about an incident or emergency directly into a rugged touchscreen device also removes the risk of paper records getting mislaid, and reduces the administrative burden on first responders — allowing them to focus on their primary mission.

Many first responders will already be familiar with mobile technology and smartphones in their personal lives, so it makes sense to equip them with a tool in the workplace that allows them to get more done. Immediately, there’s a boost to productivity and efficiency. That familiarity flattens the learning curve, since they can be trained to use the devices and work apps more quickly than if it was on a brand-new system.


Enhancing collaboration
First responder teams used to work in isolation, but more frequent public safety incidents, large-scale accidents or natural disasters have led to a need for increased collaboration between agencies. The ability for first responders to partner with public health organizations is essential, and they need to do so easily, with clearly defined standard operating procedures and pre-agreed handover of command depending on the scenario, such as where multiple people are injured and there is also a risk of fire. They need the tools to enable this partnership in exercises and in real-life emergencies.

There’s a strong case for adopting smartphones as the hub for emergency communications, and equally, there’s much for agencies to consider when implementing a mobile-centric strategy. Questions include: where is the budget best allocated for maximum return? What is the lifecycle of their smart device? Can they guarantee the safety and confidentiality of critical patient data? Can they set and enforce policies for the mobile devices for times when the users aren’t responding to an emergency situation?

What’s certain is that siloed systems have to become a thing of the past. Every first responder knows the value of clear communication in an emergency situation. Embracing a mobile innovation strategy gives public safety agencies communication technology working for you even in situations when time is working against you.

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