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Where is Public Safety Technology Headed in 2023?

Updated: Nov 7, 2023


Most companies experienced a dramatic shift in how they operated during 2020. Implementing more (and improved) digital processes became essential for completing work and providing services. It was no different for public safety agencies, forensic labs, and court systems. These community stewards were still responding in person yet were also finding more efficient and effective ways to get their jobs done with digital tools.

There are many other factors driving the need for connection, information sharing, and engagement, such as:

  • The public sector experiencing a major shift in perception after several high-profile incidents

  • The migration to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) for public safety answering points (PSAPs)

  • The heightened focus on providing more communication and resources to crime victims

Additionally, these agencies are now struggling with maintaining services due to retention issues, burnout, and recruitment difficulties. Considering all these circumstances, where is public safety technology headed in 2023 to meet these challenges?

  • Cloud and Mobile Technologies Transforming Public Safety

  • Operational Insights for Continuous Improvement and Transparency

  • Service with Care: AI, Automation, and Call Handling

Cloud and Mobile Technologies

Digital solutions, especially cloud-based and mobile, are transforming every area of government services including public safety. There have been two key drivers of this increasing migration. Most recently, the pandemic created an urgency to move from manual and paper-based processes to online and mobile ones for efficiency and safety (fewer in-person interactions required). Over the last decade, the private sector has created a perception that transactions are easy and customer service is excellent. Let’s look at how a few public safety sectors are applying this technology.


Fire and Law Enforcement

The foundational platforms of CAD/RMS are being enhanced through mobile and in-vehicle access as well as being integrated into more systems for information sharing. For dispatch, the systems should support NG9-1-1 capabilities that enable the processing of multiple types of information from voice to videos to text messages. The interoperability provides reliability and resiliency across jurisdictions.


Enterprise systems, including CAD, are shifting from on-premises to cloud-based. The as-a-service model reduces the technology burden on public service agencies while increasing resiliency and providing scalability. The migration typically has no loss of functionality or additional user training that makes it an easier transition for dispatchers and other users. The continuous delivery model ensures future proofing because new features and updates are deployed faster without the need for expensive hardware upgrades or replacements, such as servers or user terminals.


In the field, real-time information is important for response and situational awareness. Applications help monitor incidents, personnel, and resources that improve efficiency and safety based on the CAD/RMS, GIS, and other data sources. For example, Adashi Alert notifies fire departments of new incidents based on CAD information and provides a single view of all active scenes for a shared operating picture.


Crime and Forensic Labs

Crime and forensic labs are increasingly using modern technology, including cloud-based platforms, for case management that provides a clear view of their operations. The software-as-a-service model helps them improve efficiency and reduce costs. These digital systems support the growing demand for forensic services, due in part to the complexity of modern criminal investigations and the need to manage large amounts of digital evidence. There is also more collaboration with other organizations and agencies whether it’s to combine expertise and resources, address complex cases, or share results with the police and courts. As with the CAD systems, these solutions are available in the cloud to reduce the need for expensive IT infrastructure while adding easier scalability and faster deployment of updates.


Court Systems

The judicial system is migrating away from paper-based manual processes to improve efficiency, increase accessibility, and modernize operations. These applications help automate and streamline case management, document management, e-filing, records sharing, warrant request reviews, and more. For example, our court system solutions facilitate the exchange of information between police and prosecution to expedite processes and documentation sharing. There is also an increased focus on using modern technology for improving victim services, such as replacing mail with text messaging for notifications and resource sharing.


Operational Transparency and Continuous Improvement

There is a lot of information available to the communities about the work public safety agencies are doing. Yet a recent report found that almost 33% of respondents believe policing in the U.S. doesn’t have transparency. Metrics are a good start, but citizens want more.


A white paper on precision policing by the University of Cincinnati and Institute of Crime Science notes “Transparency in policing emphasizes making policies and procedures, data and information, and decision-making open to the public.” These transparency strategies should also include ways to foster accountability. Technology can support these initiatives by improving operational transparency and continuous improvement.


Precision policing requires interconnectivity and collaboration tools to partner with communities and other stakeholders for providing services and preventing crime, such as empowering law enforcement to deploy social services when there is a quality of life issue. Collecting feedback from citizens using public services through after-interaction surveys provides a wealth of actionable information for:

  • continuous improvement

  • positive recognition

  • troubleshooting issues early

The feedback provides insight on how the agency is performing which often improves customer service ratings. The survey responses can also help agencies address recruitment and retention issues by boosting morale and offering tailored training.


We expect to see more court solutions, such as CaseWorX, that offer a way to easily share information from multiple sources for treatment courts, pretrial services, and probation solutions. The interoperability supports the rehabilitation and restoration of citizens back into society.


Care for crime victims has been difficult at times. Modern communications include email, texting, and even social media messaging. There will be an expansion of these methods for providing important incident and case updates. For example, an Arizona police department sends automated notifications to crime victims via email and/or SMS to help them stay informed about their case and navigate the investigation process.


AI, Automation and Call Handling

The private sector is innovating rapidly with artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and machine learning. Public safety agencies are applying this technology to improve call handling, community engagement, and customer service, including victim care. Here are a few ways AI and automation solutions are being implemented.


Automated Communications

Most citizens expect a certain level of service from the organizations they interact with, including public safety. The private sector made transparent communications and service excellence the standard, whether it is same day delivery or ordering a pizza using an emoji. How can you provide a similar experience with your agency?

The migration to the digital Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) allows emergency call centers to receive not only voice calls, but also text messages, photos, and video from devices such as phones, tablets, and computers. The internet Protocol (IP)-based system will also enable the integration of new technologies such as automatic location identification, real-time video feeds, and interoperability with other emergency response systems. This technology makes it easier to call for service.

Automated communications can be implemented to help citizens through the process after reporting an incident or becoming a victim. In the past, information was conveyed unevenly during or after the response. Citizens would call back for updates or wonder what was happening. By using automatic notifications via email or text, police departments can:

  • Acknowledge the call

  • Provide updates and resources

  • Support crime victims

These communications are based on normal workflows and triggered by selected RMS data to educate, inform, and empower victims. This automation improves access to resources while reducing redundancies.

Police departments often use surveys to solicit feedback from the community and those they’ve interacted with in some way. These requests have typically been sent out on a quarterly or yearly basis which makes it difficult for respondents to recall details from an event. The automation of these assessment requests means that the evaluation is gathered in a timely manner through a preferred communication method such as text. The response rates are generally higher than average. The data can be used to commend positive interactions and identify improvement areas early that translates often into better customer service.

Artificial Intelligence With 40% of calls to 9-1-1 being of this nature, AI can help manage non-emergency calls by allowing citizens to communicate with law enforcement about their incident and file a report. These interactive conversational interactions capture the relevant information from the citizen in order to submit a report to the police department for review. The benefit for the reporting party is the reduction in time and effort needed for filing a report and receiving a response. The system is often programmed to provide updates to citizens throughout the process. For public safety personnel, these virtual investigators let them focus on priority areas by helping decrease the workload on operators and increase patrol capacity.


The use of AI and automation technology may improve transparency while reducing manual, time-consuming workflows. This can lead to time and money savings while allowing public safety agencies to serve their communities better through more effective and efficient responses and outcomes.


Conclusion

Technology is becoming a core need for public safety operations as the private sector’s customer service models place increasing pressure to provide the same type of convenience and service. There is the continued demand for accountability and transparency. Public safety agencies, forensic labs, and court systems will increase the adoption of these modern applications in the three key areas we outlined to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and outcomes.

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