How the Push for Smart Cities Impacts Police Forces

Police departments can use the Internet of Things and related technologies to enhance public safety.

The only technology the police force needed 40 years ago was the radio and the location of the nearest pay phone. Today, officers get all of their information digitally, as there are multiple outlets to monitor, including body cameras, on-board cameras, multiple cell phones, in-vehicle computer data terminals with internet access, traffic-monitoring radar units and much more.

These advancements have given police departments opportunities to use many of the same technologies that are helping create smart cities. These technologies add new levels of connectivity that allow every level of government to be more responsive and efficient, driving improvements in how they respond to public safety threats. And these changes are helping officers streamline administrative work and freeing up more time to do what they do best

What Is a Smart City?

The definition of a “smart city” is as broad as its potential. To some, it’s about building roadways with sensors embedded in the ground. The next person might view first responders using new techologies as the best example of a smart city. Others include schools and healthcare in their smart city vernacular.

Most, however, agree on the benefits of these technologies: increased operational efficiency for governments, much of which is based on actionable Internet of Things data, and improved services and quality of life for citizens.

A Variety of Smart City Use Cases for Public Safety

Many cities are implementing “smart” IoT tools in the race to become smart cities. Devices range from digital kiosks to sensors that alert mobile devices when a parking spot is available. Many police departments have joined the race by adopting integrated systems, which provide reliable information officers in patrol cars before a citizen even dials 911.

Many smart cities have adopted the use of streetlights that alert maintenance teams when a malfunction has occurred. This type of technology can be coupled with gunshot detection equipment, allowing lights to become a bit brighter upon detection. Or, during a chase on foot down a dark road, lights can be adjusted to become brighter to aid in the pursuit.

Adding these capabilities into video surveillance, license plate readers, and recorders — along with the ability to readily forward this information to first responders, police command and any other necessary departments — provides significant value for police forces, which are able to detect and, ultimately, deter criminal activity.

Advanced technologies are helping law enforcement agencies use the manpower they have in smarter ways. Officers have better opportunities to be at the right place at the right time, with the right knowledge at hand — and this is just the beginning of what technology can provide.

MORE FROM STATETECH: Discover how Verizon will work to bring 5G solutions to market for first responders. 

Police Departments Need Strong Network Connectivity

With so many police technologies and applications relying on internet connectivity, police departments have increasingly shifted toward 4G LTE networks for a wide range of data-driven communication services. The reliability and security of these mobile networks must be in place for their jobs to get done. 

Officers need access to mission-critical applications and the internet from anywhere, given that data is flowing from onboard telemetry, sensors, surveillance cameras and other devices.

At the same time, most police departments rely on small IT teams. With vehicles spread all over a city, and with sensitive data at risk, the ability to remotely manage the network is a must. Departments are seeking the enterprise-class visibility, security and control of fixed branch networks with the durability necessary for in-vehicle use. Cloud, mobile computing, IoT and 4G/5G wireless technologies are converging to create new solutions that meet the needs of modern-day police forces.

As new law enforcement technology use cases constantly pop up and nationwide public safety networks progress, the need for secure, reliable connectivity that is easy for departments to deploy, manage and expand will surge. With scalable solutions in place, new technologies will allow crime fighters to enhance their ability to protect and serve their communities.

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Dec 06 2018