< Browse more articles

Achieving seamless communication, now and into the future

Interoperability—the ability to effectively communicate across several systems, government agencies and jurisdictions simultaneously—is a critical piece of today’s law enforcement puzzle. The reason? Well, primarily, it allows for multi-agency co-ordination and a better, faster tactical response. Just imagine any large-scale emergency event in which the public’s safety is at risk. Decision-makers must have immediate access to timely, accurate, and complete information, whether it’s a massive flood, a terrorist threat or a sporting event gone awry. Given no single agency at any level of government has the required capacity and expertise to act unilaterally, the need for a collaborative response is of the utmost importance.

But, as much as achieving seamless interoperability is the ultimate goal in the public safety realm, there are still certain barriers that can inhibit it. According to a report on Interoperability by the National Task Force, published back in February 2003, the key issues hampering emergency response wireless communications in the emergency response community were as follows:

  • Incompatible and aging communications equipment
  • Limited and fragmented budget cycles and funding
  • Limited and fragmented planning and co-ordination
  • Limited and fragmented radio spectrum
  • and limited equipment standards

Today, more than a decade later, technology has helped address some of these barriers by offering solutions that are far more advanced and easy to implement, as well as dedicated public safety LTE networks. While for the most part, budgets are still restrictive, equipment standards have improved and new applications are emerging that are more cost-effective and inclusive, allowing agencies and jurisdictions to communicate better with each other despite having separate systems and priorities.

Here in Canada, one such solution is Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure’s Intergraph Planning & Response, a solution that enables multi-agency coordination. Intergraph Planning & Response (IPR) is an application used by emergency operation centres and mobile command staff to manage major events—from severe weather events to any planned event requiring crowd control. Users can coordinate information and resources among diverse organizations at the strategic and tactical levels. Seamless integration with PSAP dispatch systems enables additional coordination at the operational level, ensuring efficient and effective processes and collaboration for both planned major events and unplanned disasters and emergencies.

Aside from providing inter-agency collaboration, IPR gives agencies the ability to interface with external systems, like city road networks and cameras, internal web pages and access to CAD information. This ability to interface with other systems reduces the number of people needed to communicate with external agencies as well as reduces communication time. It even captures all of the activities during a special operation or an event, providing the organization or agencies with in depth analytics. Then as each operation is completed, IPR can be used to review and analyze how an operation transpired.

The bottom line is that emergencies happen every day, and when they do, improving responder communications capabilities in support of safety and efficiencies are key to an effective response. Tapping into new technology to enable multi-agency interoperability is the first huge step in the right direction.

To find out more about IPR and web-based technologies that support interoperability, visit: www.hexagonsafetyinfrastructure.com