With hurricane and fire seasons right around the corner, and large earthquakes rocking parts of California over the Independence Day weekend, a lot of attention is naturally being placed on the role of first responders and the tools they use to ensure public safety. The creation of FirstNet – the First Responder Network Authority – has brought an enormous spotlight on the need to develop more reliable technologies that improve communications and information access for public safety organizations in their day-to-day operations as well as during critical rescue and response situations. One tool that’s rapidly emerging as a potential life-saver is Location Intelligence.
Location Intelligence for Consumers
As consumers, we’re all familiar with the benefits of maps and live traffic information thanks to the availability of popular apps such as Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps on our smartphones. These applications allow us to set various parameters that help narrow down the fastest or physically shortest routes to our destination, and they can even select routes that avoids tolls or re-route us to different roads in real-time if traffic conditions change. In congested cities these apps save time and a great deal of frustration.
For the most part these apps do an adequate job, relying on GPS and WiFi data to place us on a map fairly accurately. In the public safety space, however, this lack of accuracy and limited information simply isn’t good enough. And that’s precisely where Location Intelligence comes in. Location Intelligence (LI) has the potential to tap into connected IoT devices, street and building cameras, smartphones and a variety of temperature, wind, smoke and other sensors to produce a far more detailed view of where things are happening, who is there, and what resources may be available.
Location Intelligence for First Responders
In the public safety space, Location Intelligence can use various data feeds from existing sensors and cameras, as well as additional information from body-worn sensors, Bluetooth, RFID and more. All of this “Big Data” gets layered over geographical map and in-building information in as-close-to-real-time as possible, to create a much more precise and up-to-date means of pinpointing people, assets and possible trouble spots that need to be investigated.
Having access to this level of detailed information is incredibly valuable for first responders, who need to know where people or hazardous materials may be – particularly in a building that’s been damaged by earthquake or fire, as well as other circumstances such as an active shooter situation. Traditional GPS solutions are helpful, but they lack pinpoint accuracy, especially inside buildings where people are likely to be moving around.
Location Intelligence is already being used by public safety agencies and FirstNet to enhance many aspects of community safety. As a tool, Location Intelligence gives large agencies such as FEMA more information to answer critical big-picture questions:
- How many people are in an affected area?
- Where are they located?
- What risks do they face?
- What resources are available?
Location Intelligence + Smart Cities
As public IoT and Smart City deployments continue to boom, our infrastructure is becoming an active extension of these Location Intelligence tools, providing a host of geospatial information that allows public safety departments to see the status of their assets in the context of location. By combining information from multiple sources (including social media and other crowd-sourced data) and delivering it quickly and securely, safety agencies in the future will gain an even more complete picture of any situation – big or small – to calculate the appropriate manpower and tools needed in response. This not only saves the public valuable funds, it contributes to the thing that we all want: faster response times and safer communities.