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Microsoft recently sat down with Steve Raucher, CEO, RapidDeploy. Here are the insights Steve shared:

For many public safety agencies, implementing new technology can create severe headaches. Replacing the nerve center of public safety communications is often a multi-year process that can cost millions of dollars, and with new capabilities emerging so quickly, a system can be outdated not long after implementation. With all these concerns and implementation struggles, it’s easy to lose sight of why they’re trying to deploy new technology in the first place: to make our communities safer.

A modern and secure cloud platform service makes new solutions easier to deploy, more affordable, and more resilient. That way, public safety professionals can focus on what matters: keeping citizens and responders safe. In this blog post, you’ll read a few perspectives from early adopters on how the power of the cloud helps makes their communities safer.

1. Take your Communications Center with you wherever you go

Having your server infrastructure on premise (read: in the back room of the Communications Center) gives many people a sense of comfort. But people often don’t work through every scenario. Whether it’s the cleaner innocently unplugging a cable, or a malicious intruder installing ransomware through a remote desktop: have people taken the physical and cyber-security measures to restrict and monitor access? And how to maintain continuity of operations if the center is evacuated? Unless the backup center is truly geographically redundant it could possibly be affected by whatever caused the evacuation in the first place?

“Being able to deploy a dispatch platform in the field without being dependent on any servers in the back room adds important resilience and redundancy, and prepares us for major disasters like Hurricanes”, said Bob Finney, Director of Communications at the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, FL. “This helps us spin up a mobile command post or fully featured Public Safety Answering Point from wherever we need, whenever we need to.”

The most effective modern cloud applications rely on geographically redundant secured data center facilities that are monitored 24×7 and are compliant with the highest reliability and cybersecurity requirements. That way, customers can connect from anywhere as long as they have valid access credentials and IP connectivity. Agencies can seamlessly switch between their Next Generation 911 Network, commercial internet providers, Public Safety Broadband such as FirstNet, or even tethering off a 3G mobile data connection from a smartphone. All they need for continuity of operations is connectivity to the cloud!

2. Reduce response times and keep responders safe through situational awareness

Very often, callers give vague information about where an emergency is occurring and what exactly is happening on scene. Call-takers, dispatchers and even first responders have to do a lot of guesswork to determine where they need to go, and what they should expect when they get there. How much time is spent determining the location of a caller, and how can responders be protected from threats?

“A robust cloud platform allows us to integrate with real-time video feeds from smartphones, location services and sensor data like live traffic and weather”, said Reinhard Ekl, Chief Operating Officer of RapidDeploy. “That way, Public Safety agencies have eyes on the scene before the first officer arrives, which helps locate the emergency and warn responders of any hazards.”

Hosting solutions in the cloud makes it so much easier to integrate new interfaces into the dispatch platform. Rather than having to purchase custom interfaces and then waiting for years to get them developed and deployed, cloud-based dispatch solutions can develop interfaces in record speed and can make every new interface available to all customers at no additional cost.

3. Gain unique insights and make sense of the downpour of data using Artificial Intelligence

In the past, emergency response was typically activated by a citizen placing a phone call to 9-1-1. As we move towards Next Generation 9-1-1, citizens now expect to receive emergency assistance whether they call, text, post on social media, or even when their smart devices automatically detect an emergency. Smart city initiatives, the Internet of Things and crowdsourced applications are harvesting data at unprecedented levels. How will agencies get all this data in their  9-1-1 Centers? And how will they make sense of all the data?

“It’s not just about getting more data into 9-1-1, it’s about making it actionable”, said Christy Williams, Director 9-1-1 of the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District. “In North Central Texas, we want to do more than gather information for reporting, as it is today. We want to analyze historic data and predict the future so that we can prepare accordingly.”

Modern cloud applications don’t just use cloud storage, they use the power of cloud computing for machine learning and natural language processing. This enables organizations to derive insights from data and provide decision-making support instantly, instead of overwhelming staff with too much data.

As you can see, there are many ways that the cloud enables public safety to make their communities safer. At RapidDeploy, our mission to is to reduce response times for all and to keep responders safe through increased situational awareness. We’re excited to partner with Microsoft and the Microsoft Azure Government cloud platform to enable our customers to save lives.

Find out more about Microsoft’s Digital Transformation solutions for State and Local Government.