Emerging Tech, Network Uptime Top First Responder Priorities

First responders rely on technology to do their job. A recent survey reveals their current priority is a resilient, reliable network and many expect widespread use of emerging tech like drones and robotics. 

In a survey conducted by Verizon Frontline, first responders said they expect to rely heavily on emerging tech within the next five years.

Of the 2,000 law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical personnel surveyed, 43 percent said they expect that drones and other robotics will be a major part of their arsenal within five years, even though just 1 in 5 said they use drones heavily today for emergency response communications.

Also, 80 percent of respondents reported still using Land Mobile Radios (LMR) on a daily basis, but just 69 percent said they expected to use them on a daily basis in five years.

A key finding of the survey, said Cory Davis, assistant vice president of Verizon Frontline, was that 5G was either a top priority or an important one to first responders; a resilient, reliable network was most important.

“More than half, 51 percent of them, said a reliable and resilient network was most important to them for their day-to-day communications,” Davis said. That number jumped to 72 percent when an agency was immediately engaged in an emergency.

“And going on that theme of resiliency, we’re really seeing that demand of zero down time – ‘every second counts’ is so important,” he continued.

Interoperability was second to reliability and resiliency in terms of what’s most important during both day-to-day and emergency communications.

Commenting on public safety communications, Jonathan Thompson, executive director of the National Sheriff’s Association, said via email that “interoperability from front to end of usage cycle, from caller to frontline personnel and across systems,” was critical.

Thompson added the importance of “tools that are transparent and without proprietary standards requiring fees to maintain. Solutions have to be backward and forward compatible. This means no agency will be stranded with prior investment.”

Davis said it was a bit of a surprise that responders were so optimistic about emerging tech in the next five years.

“You’re seeing [robotics and drones] now, but that’s a pretty significant jump according to respondents. That’s surprising, and what we’re finding is that we’re seeing more organic growth within this segment because of some of the things happening around the world like climate change and the political climate.”

“Natural disasters are becoming more frequent, so I think we’re seeing there’s even more focus on emergency management and public safety here and globally,” he added.

The responses around LMR was another surprise, Davis said. “So last year in the survey, 89 percent of the first responders said they use LMR on a daily basis, and this year just 80 percent said so, with 69 percent saying they expected to use LMRs in five years,” he said.

“What we’re seeing is that the LMR is still that mission-critical device, but there is more of an appetite for really augmenting that network and using cellular as another option to really expand the footprint and infrastructure.”


This article is written by Jim McKay from Government Technology and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.