There’s a lot of discussion in Public Safety circles about cloud services these days. Many of these discussions center on cost, flexibility, and security. Another point that often comes out in discussions is that there’s a need for underlying trust. It’s hard for many Public Safety agencies, who have little experience with “the cloud” to believe that a remote cloud solution can be as available as a local system that they can own and touch. I’ve had several conversations with people in Public Safety about the cloud – some people are for it, and invariably, some are against it. But interestingly, all share common concerns.
While both camps, for and against, often share concerns about cloud applications’ availability and security, I think it is arguable that cloud-based technology typically provides higher availability and security than an affordable on premise solution. Cloud computing offers built-in availability and security features, such as redundant system components, offsite data backup, system monitoring, data encryption, network intrusion detection, 24x7 video monitoring, biometric physical access control, and CJIS compliance to name a few.
But here I’d like to discuss the cloud from a different perspective. This stems from a revelation that came out of a recent educational session I presented at the national NENA conference in Denver
“Cloud solutions can free your organization to focus on its mission and goals.”
For Public Safety organizations, this can be a critical and life-altering realization.
For example, it’s stating the obvious – but the mission of fire departments is to put out fires quickly and safely. To achieve this mission requires training, equipment, and a supporting physical and IT infrastructure.
But that’s where the distractions start creeping in.
Selecting, installing, and maintaining IT infrastructure is a complex task, requiring the skills and experience of specialists whose mission is not to put out fires…but rather, to provide state-of-the-art availability, virus protection, and speed.
The underlying truth is – Public Safety organizations do not have unlimited resources and budgets. ‘State-of-the-art’ is simply unaffordable and unattainable for most in-house IT teams.
But more importantly, time and resources spent on IT infrastructure is time and resources not spent on the Public Safety core mission.
I would advocate that the way for Public Safety to get its focus back is to start looking in the cloud.
Offloading the IT mission to cloud service providers will free up Fire Departments, EMS, Police and 911 centers to focus on their core Public Safety missions, instead of spending valuable resources and time thinking about how to manage and maintain IT applications.