2018 Trends: Bringing Digital Transformation to Public Safety

Blog Post created by b_martinez-esristaff Employee on Mar 13, 2018

By Ryan Lanclos, Esri


You’ve heard for years how the world is undergoing a digital transformation (DX). In fact, your own home probably has more sensors than you realize. They might control everything from your air conditioning to lights or even provide real-time audio and video from your front door. However, many of us don’t fully realize that the ongoing digital transformation is more than just a buzzword or the inclusion of smart sensors into our homes.  Digital transformation is about how we apply and integrate digital technologies to support the business processes of our organizations. For those who work in public safety, the ongoing digital transformation around us presents an amazing opportunity to build safer communities.


As you plan your work in 2018, here are 4 key trends in public safety that will help you take advantage of the ongoing digital transformation. While some of these trends may currently be a disruption, they will become more common over the next few years. Now is the time to prepare and position your agency as a digital transformation leader in public safety.


Drones Fly High

In 2017, the Los Angeles Fire Department used drones for the first time to fight the Skirball Fire. Their aerial drone provided situational awareness and helped assess hot spots around the fire using infrared imagery. The Austin Fire Department’s Robotics Emergency Deployment Division now has 21 employees supporting their efforts.  As standards are developed and regulations are simplified, more and more public safety departments are looking to integrate drones into their arsenal.  As this transformation continues, GIS tools like Esri’s Drone2Map provide the ability to integrate data directly from your drone into ArcGIS. From there you have the full capabilities of ArcGIS at your disposal. You can conduct image analysis and create apps that provide decision support to first responders and operators. For more info on Drone2Map, visit: go.esri.com/D2M-EM.


Machines Are Getting Smarter

Machine Learning (ML) continues to make ArcGIS smarter.  At Esri we are focused on where ML and GIS intersect which in turn means that public safety organizations will be able to make better data driven decisions.  For example, ML provides law enforcement agencies the ability to derive predictions about where crime may occur, or allow an emergency management planner to determine where a certain hazard might strike and what part of the community is most vulnerable.  The massive amounts of data already available within, and available to, many of our organizations becomes the training data that allows ML to work its magic.  By connecting the data in your records management system (RMS) to ArcGIS and then leveraging ML, you can gain insights on where to position your limited resources to mitigate potential issues. When a disaster strikes and post-event imagery is made available, ML enables you to classify an image to determine damage estimates in areas that may still be inaccessible.  ML will continue to evolve within ArcGIS and provide you with tools that help you make smarter and more data driven decisions. 


Real-Time and Event-Driven Actions

I started this article talking about how sensors are showing up in the most unexpected places.  But what about the sensors you have access to within your public safety organization?  Traffic sensors, cameras, stream gauges, weather stations, air quality monitors, and even smart assets like streetlights and trashcans provide you with real-time data that can be leveraged to your advantage.  By connecting to these sensors and exploiting the location element within this network of sensors, you can begin to trigger actions based on the real-time information you are receiving. When a certain set of criteria or business rules are met, your system responds to this new information in real-time.  A simple example might be that you proactively dispatch resources and alert citizens in a flood prone area based on changing weather conditions. Esri’s Real-Time GIS capability provides you with the tools to improve situational awareness and enable a faster response that can help save lives and property. Learn more at: go.esri.com/real-time-em.


Dedicated Connectivity

At the end of 2017, all 50 states opted-in to the nation’s first public safety dedicated broadband infrastructure that will support communications across the public safety industry. FirstNet provides communities with access to a broadband network that enables a much-needed priority flow of data and information to first responders.  This means that your GIS applications running on mobile devices in the field will have priority access to bandwidth during an incident.  The apps your first responders rely on will now have a dedicated network capable of providing high-speed connectivity that improves information delivery, collection, and collaboration.

Learn more about how Esri helps you embrace digital transformation in public safety by visiting go.esri.com/public-safety-em.