4 minute read
By Reka Sarudi
Posted in Customer Engagement
Since the 1990s, the internet has been reshaping the communication landscape. And now protective measures, introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, have wildly accelerated the use of digital communication technologies. Social distancing and the widespread adoption of remote work have resulted in a huge surge in the use of social media, video conferencing and instant messaging apps.
Of course, organizations and businesses of all types had been benefiting from the spread of digital communication channels and intelligence for many years before COVID-19 arrived. With the help of today’s leading-edge technologies, public safety service providers can also make use of this data to help them meet the expectations of today’s increasingly digital citizens, enhancing mission-critical operations and improving their efficiency.
Over the past 10 to 20 years, how we interact with emergency response centers—9-1-1 in North America, 1-1-2 in Europe—has been strongly shaped by the expansion of new, digital communication channels that citizens use in their everyday lives. While in 2010 there were a little less than 63 million smartphone users in the U.S., today this number is more than 272 million and expected to reach 285 million over the next three years. 1
At the same time, the number of landlines is decreasing—in 2004 more than 90 percent of U.S. households had a landline phone. Today this number is little more than 40 percent. 2
IT and telecommunications are changing rapidly, but the public safety sector often lags behind the advancements of consumer technology. The reason for this is fairly simple: the possibility that an unanticipated technical failure could hinder response to incidents and put lives at risk has caused public safety services providers to be extremely cautious about new innovations before adopting them.
This is understandable, but there is a balance to be struck that will enable public safety answering points (PSAPs) to embrace these new technologies—many of which could help them enhance their mission-critical infrastructure operations and respond to current challenges, such as the abrupt and unexpected arrival of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today’s emergency response centers serve the public against a backdrop of complex events, increasing citizen and regulatory expectations, and evolving technologies. Despite these obstacles, they must efficiently address the following challenges:
Digital innovations have put new tools in the hands of citizens and the emergency services—but also criminals. Hacking, identity theft, phishing, and online scams are just a few examples of the resultant cybercrimes that are on the rise—and the list is growing. And as recent events have shown, PSAPs must also be able to react promptly to unprecedented situations, such as unanticipated epidemics, natural disasters or terror threats.
In an age when customers can interact with brands 24/7 and can easily track down the status of the ordered service, people expect faster and more informed emergency services than ever. However, due to safety and security reasons and the nature of the industry, public safety services providers can’t always exploit the same technological advances as a consumer business. For example, in a 9-1-1 center, defining the exact location of a caller can be challenging, unless the call is received from a landline.
Public safety is a highly regulated business. With the expansion of digital communication modes, service providers need to record, archive, and retrieve interactions across multiple channels, often in diverse formats. This can be a serious IT challenge, especially when there are limited resources.
Learn more about the challenges of modern emergency services in Chapter 2 of our free eBook: Public Safety Answering Points in the Digital Era.
For mission-critical operations, the growth in user-generated data—and the development of new communication modes—is both a challenge and an opportunity. Enabling response centers to receive text and multimedia in addition to voice calls, then to capture, securely manage and retrieve the recordings on demand, requires crucial changes within the command center.
However, if public safety service providers can successfully address these challenges, they can benefit from having more—and more accurate—information on-hand. This can transform emergency response, incident reconstruction, quality assurance, and employee training.
Despite recognizing the need for change, when addressing the challenges of the digital era, leaders of public safety agencies can easily find themselves in a jungle teeming with new and exotic-looking tools. This can be overwhelming; however, at Verint we believe that technological advances should simplify operations instead of complicating them.
This was our philosophy when we created our portfolio specifically designed for public safety and critical infrastructure operations. Our goal is to help our customers simplify, modernize and automate their mission-critical operations by:
Discover more in our complimentary eBook, Emergency Call Handling 2020. To access more public safety-related material, schedule a call with an expert, and explore Verint’s portfolio for critical infrastructure operations, visit verint.com/public-safety.
1 Source: Statista, 2020, https://www.statista.com/statistics/201182/forecast-of-smartphone-users-in-the-us/
2 Source: Statista, 2019, https://www.statista.com/chart/2072/landline-phones-in-the-united-states/
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