In the meantime, municipalities can consider leveraging private wireless networks and existing 4G networks to improve performance and control for mission-critical applications that first responders rely on.
When it comes to technology upgrades, according to a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) report that involved interviews with hundreds of first responders, public safety professionals don't necessarily need new technology—they just need better technology.
In the report, first responders said they needed upgraded radio equipment and mobile devices to better communicate with their colleagues and improve police and fire service collaboration. First responders in some jurisdictions also were using their own personal cell phones to communicate, which poses security risks even when these devices connect to private networks.
Budget constraints often prevent departments from upgrading their equipment, but first responders indicated it was critical for their agencies to make these investments to enhance the current technology already in use within their departments rather than introducing new technologies with a steeper learning curve.
In reality, this may mean ensuring first responders have access to the latest versions of mobile communications and radio equipment and that these devices and all mission-critical public safety and emergency management applications are updated with the latest security patches and features.
There also may be an opportunity for departments to use enterprise versions of commercial applications that first responders are already familiar with, such as mapping, real-time location sharing, and voice-based or video streaming applications. This can speed adoption and reduce the need for time-intensive training.