Mobile Apps take Incident Reporting to the Next Level

As the use of smartphones and other mobile devices becomes more prevalent, we’ve grown accustomed to ‘capturing [and sharing] the moment’ on these devices using various apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Twitter. Think about spotting a celebrity or passing a witty billboard – we instinctively reach for our phones to share this information with others.

But what if these same instincts could also help facilitate real-time information sharing during an unfolding incident?

At the Secured Cities Conference a few weeks back, the technology that really caught my eye was a mobile app that enables first responders, security personnel, or just about anyone to communicate multimedia incident information . Various companies offered different versions of this app, which allows users to send an alert about an event, along with location information (X, Y, Z coordinates), and even images and videos of an incident scene.

The logic behind this seems to be that if responders know about a situation sooner and have access to rich, accurate, real-time information on the ‘what, where, when and why,’ situational awareness goes up and response time goes down. I can see how this mobile app would be invaluable to cities, PSAPs, government and private organizations, and even ordinary citizens.

I’ve been immersed in developing NICE solutions to help PSAPs capture and manage multimedia communications for Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) for the past decade and I see this new trend as another positive step in the same direction. While NG9-1-1 will empower citizens to communicate with 9-1-1 centers in new ways, these apps, powered by Public Safety broadband and other delivery mechanisms, will extend multimedia communications even further, unlocking real-time collaboration and data flow far beyond the capacities of spoken communication.

Ten years ago, when multimedia communication was still a novelty in the public safety industry, it would have been hard to imagine the types of mobile apps on display at Secured Cities. Of course, I knew NG9-1-1 was coming. I knew that PSAPs would need a tool to capture and accurately reconstruct these complex multimedia communications. But no one could have predicted how far this would go.

It’s very exciting and affirming to see these types of developments, and I can’t wait to see what’s on tap at next year’s Secured Cities conference.

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