While cybersecurity is a growing concern in this day and age, general public safety and good ol’ physical security should not fall to the wayside, as these areas will easily benefit from technological gains in the years to come.
As it stands, a global survey conducted by Goldsmiths, University of London, found that 88% of citizens around the world want to see public safety prioritized for transformation via the application of advanced technology.
This comes around thanks to a shift in perspective brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, as people became acutely aware of how technologies can be harnessed to keep people safe, with familiar innovations such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and remote monitoring all playing roles that can be adapted to work in different ways.
Communications are key to public safety
Effective communication avenues are an area that is often taken for granted when it comes to public safety. Emergency services need to be able to communicate instantly and securely among teams, especially during a crisis, where frontliners need clear instruction and direction from dispatchers or their commanding officers to properly coordinate effective and strategic use of their services..
As it stands, the Goldsmiths survey found that 74% of the global citizens polled agreed that using technology provides a marked increase in the productivity and efficiency of emergency services.
This is not limited to public safety, as businesses and organizations benefit from this as well. 75% of citizens polled agreeing to this statement, with most being open to new technologies being implemented by their governments or emergency services if those technologies would benefit public safety.
SMRT Corp, a public transport provider in Singapore, is one of those organizations that has made improvements to its communications systems over the years. According to Leow Wee Lee, principal fellow of signal communications and head of cybersecurity for SMRT Trains Ltd, the public transport provider was the first railway operator to introduce a Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) standard digital trunked radio system in Asia.
“Previously, in an emergency, passengers would be able to speak directly to the train driver. However, using this system, passengers would be able to speak directly to the control center, which has trained staff on hand to calm and direct passengers, leaving the driver to concentrate on any issues at hand,” shared Leow, during a round-table held jointly with Motorola on March 11.
Seizing the opportunity to upgrade
The Goldsmiths survey, which was commissioned by Motorola, also found that this increased openness among the public to new technologies and the different ways technology can be utilized for public safety stems from the pandemic, which has also raised public awareness on the importance of safety technology.
This represents an important opportunity for public safety providers to invest the funds and time to innovate new technologies that improve the security, efficiency, and efficacy of their services. Should the new developments prove their worth, the public would in all likelihood respond positively, allowing those providers greater opportunities to increase public trust and to build better safety solutions over time.
However, public safety providers and businesses alike are cautioned against assuming they have public consent to use new technologies. Coming back to data privacy, the Goldsmiths survey also found that citizens want and expect safety technology to be used in transparent, fair, and inclusive ways, with the benefits clearly laid out.
With clear understanding and trust in the technologies being deployed and the objectives of the service providers in using those technologies, citizens were also more willing to share their own data to enable better outcomes for overall safety. 75% of the citizens polled have noted they are willing to trust safety providers that hold their information, as long as it is used appropriately.