Our public-safety institutions are charged with the most important responsibility – keeping us safe – and in some cases, saving our lives. When tragedy strikes, timing is of the essence and errors are unforgiving. Everything needs to go right. While many things are out of our control, our equipment is not. Traditionally, communication devices for public safety have been rugged and reliable – CB radios, walkie-talkies, etc. The evolution of mobile technology, however, now offers public safety professionals an incredible array of features to help them do their jobs in a more efficient and effective fashion. There is a downside to emerging technology though – it’s often delicate, making it unreliable in challenging conditions. Enter rugged mobile.
This week, Kyocera is headed to the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) 2017, the annual convention for communications tech professionals and two-way radio manufacturers. Manufacturers like Kyocera are revolutionizing mobile devices, combining the full technological power of the modern smartphone with rugged designs that stand up to the harshest conditions, providing unprecedented reliability when it matters most. From police officers to EMTs to Park Rangers, going rugged can help optimize operations – and keep the public safe.
The Move to Mobile
Rugged and reliable communication devices like two-way radios have served the public-safety sector well for decades. They allow for clear, immediate communication in critical moments, and their rugged designs stand up to the elements and the often-rough situations in which public safety officers find themselves. For these reasons and more, the public-safety sector has lagged in adopting mobile technology. The rapidly expanding benefits of mobile technology, however, are convincing the industry to adapt and adopt. A report from the Federal Communications Commission states that, “Today’s channel allocations in public safety communications bands can handle limited data applications, but emerging applications demand higher data rates and broadband capabilities for communications among first responders and public safety agencies. First responders in emergencies are beginning to recognize video applications and visualized location-based services as mission critical.”
It’s All About Information
In times of crisis, information is the most critical resource. And in the digital age, information is readily available – if you can access it. Smartphones and cell-enabled tablets put real-time information in the hands of public-safety officers, allowing them to respond and react to changing circumstances in real-time. Information is collected across multiple systems. Whether it’s information on a potential suspect, GPS location tracking, traffic information or dispatch communications, mobile technology is the conduit through which information is distributed. Armed with information, public-safety officers can gain a full understanding of the situation at hand, and act accordingly. Access to information can speed response, eliminate mistakes, and ultimately, save lives.
A picture is worth a thousand words. In public-safety environments, pictures can inform an approach and expedite the resulting actions. Mobile technology is increasingly focused on enhancing the quality and speed of photo and video transmission, allowing users to stream live video information. The possibilities are endless. The rise of apps like Periscope and Facebook Live have demonstrated what streaming video is capable of. Anyone armed with a smartphone can bring viewers into a live atmosphere. Media has been particularly adept at using the technology, broadcasting live from protests, rallies, natural disasters and more. This technology in the hands of public safety officers is invaluable, advancing situational awareness and amplifying information sharing.
The Internet of Things has been talked about in technology circles for some time. But what started as more of a theory than a readily available application is finally coming to fruition. According to VDC research, 2016 saw multiple IoT cloud platform rollouts across large organizations. VDC predicts that IoT development will advance in 2017, focusing on everything from platforms as a service to security against botnet attacks. What does this mean for public safety application? Potential. From centralized monitoring of equipment and movement to reporting and surveillance, public safety will reap the benefits of emerging IoT applications. Many IoT platforms will rely on mobile devices, and applications in environments not hospitable to typical electronic devices are driving the demand for rugged devices to previously unseen levels. In order for IoT’s benefits to be fully realized, raw data – and sensitive data – must be aggregated and parsed over time. Mobile will allow for the easy flow of this data by acting as a conduit, as well as offering analytics functionality. IoT data lives in the cloud. Mobile can both upload and download this data anywhere, anytime, enabling public-safety officers to make real-time, critical decisions.
One of the reasons public safety has been slow to adopt mobile solutions is a fear of security issues. Public safety organizations – particularly law enforcement – often communicate sensitive information. A security breach could conceivably have serious consequences. While the worry over security is not unfounded, the mobile industry is constantly evolving its security measures to thwart hacking attempts. With the US military making significant investments in mobile-communication solutions, security development is quickly evolving to meet the needs of the most security-concerned organizations.
Mobile technology often must be treated with kid gloves. Just look at the thriving market for smartphone insurance and aftermarket protective cases for consumers. In public safety environments, delicate devices are a non-starter. That’s where rugged mobile comes in. For most of the mobile era, truly rugged devices were available only to enterprise organizations – and at a significant cost. Companies like Kyocera, however, are bringing rugged to the masses with military-grade, affordable rugged devices that meet the needs of a wide variety of organizations – including public safety. Of course, not all rugged solutions are created equal. The emergence of rugged has resulted in devices that claim they are “rugged,” but don’t meet industry standards, certifications and benchmarks for rugged devices. Truly rugged devices – like the Kyocera DuraForce Pro – are designed to meet IP68 for dust and water immersion (up to 2 meters for up to 30 minutes) and Military Standard 810G for protection against dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, blowing rain, low pressure, solar radiation, salt fog, thermal shock, icing and freezing rain, humidity and water immersion. These are the conditions in which public safety workers often find themselves. These critical conditions – in critical moments – require durable, rugged and reliable mobile solutions. Kyocera answers the call.