The Future of Public Safety in 2020

Cradlepoint's Estee Woods shares her predictions of where public safety technology is heading for 2020 and beyond.

2019 brought major reform for first responder technology due to growing public safety networks, the need for interoperability and the state of both man-made and natural disasters -- plus the proliferation of 5G connectivity in the market. All of these factors combined have created a qualifying moment as we enter 2020.

Public safety networks are considered mission-critical in enhancing interoperability, communications and successful team collaboration, since first responders are constantly on the move. Cellular has created an era of mobile broadband networks, leading to a proliferation of mobile offices and pervasive connectivity that have enabled a new standard in communication for emergency personnel.

This draws a parallel to 2007 and 2008 when the smartphone was launched. The years following saw an explosion of new technology that was rapidly consumed and changed the way we live and work. It also changed the way we, as humans, interact with each other and see our world view."

We believe that 2020 and 2021 will see a similar, accelerated impact on the public safety market. It will likely result in the largest rate of change in the industry since the smartphone boom. Some standout technologies will include:

  • Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will come into their own, for the safe and fast delivery of defibrillators and emergency medications. Legislation will need to be at the forefront to really eliminate agency risk and enable this untapped potential to be mapped out.
  • BOT operations will help automate public safety responses. Integrations between human operations and computer operations form artificial intelligence. Automated workflows, called ‘BOTS,’ can help public safety by serving as the virtual eyes and ears on the street. BOTS can be activated by spoken words and create alerts and workflows via the cloud. This topic will gain momentum in workplace automation in 2020.
  • 5G, AI, LMR + LTE and UAS will be the biggest mover and shakers in public safety. Smart states will replace smart cities, and anything that can be connected will be connected. If there is no cellular/broadband connectivity, Private LTE networks will fill that coverage gap. Cloud and edge computing, along with 5G, will enable AI technology and machine learning.
  • MR systems -- 20 years ago, most first responders relied on CAD and LMR ‘technologies.’ But that’s changing. New tech like LMR, LTE and PTT will need interoperability, which continues to be the biggest roadblock with the highest amount of risk if it can’t be overcome. Data interoperability needs to be mapped out, including LMR, P25, PTT, OTT, access control, 911 and data sharing, so these points can all intermingle. Integrating cellular networks into your overall mission-critical comms plan will be essential in making this possible.”

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