I’m sorry … who is responsible for my public safety?
In the era of big data, like any modern technology, there are always those who jump into the fray hoping to make money off yet-to-be-understood technological paradigms. And, though commendable as it pertains to the entrepreneurial spirit, the outcome can have serious and even devastating effects that can directly impact people’s lives.
The industry surrounding onsite and building data, and the bigger picture of Smart City technology, is no stranger to questionable business models. After all, how many experts have even begun to scratch the surface of what Smart Cities can accomplish?
But the question becomes, how does the modern age of apps, mobile devices, and online social behaviors shape the way in which emergency services, police, and military acclimate to this new era of shared information? And, more importantly, how does it shape their processes that ultimately come down to saving lives and keeping cities safe from harm?
Lately, there have been business models based on the world of mobile apps that seemingly leave the world of public safety in the hands of building owners and others—making them the source of all information that can potentially feed data to emergency service professionals on the internal and external workings of a building. However, is this the smartest way to create and share information? Simply put, no it isn’t.
Imagine a world where the information being gathered is also controlled by those who reside outside the public safety spectrum. Portals of information where emergency services actually need to ask, maybe even beg, for access to building and onsite data. Worst of all, who is to say what buildings are available in said database, and who is the administrator who will grant access at 2:00 in the morning on New Year’s Eve? It’s this type of frightening scenario that can have dire consequences in a fast-paced emergency response situation: how can questionable data sources transform the Standard Operating Procedures of agencies, and how can these sources be relied upon in emergency situations when seconds count?
So, how do we combat entrepreneurial spirit gone wrong? Like any industry or profession, there is usually one simple rule: let the experts handle what they do best—those who are held publicly accountable for their actions. And, in this case, the rule absolutely applies. Now, please understand that I’m in no way trying to discount those who own or manage buildings; however, leaving it up to a third-party company in the business of capturing data to share with emergency services “a portal for free,” is the equivalent of asking my accountant to perform major surgery.
When it comes to the expertise, insight, extensive education, and more, emergency service professionals have very specific requirements as they pertain to pre-plans, in-field training, information dissemination, etc.,—all of which are interdependent on ensuring the safety of all involved. They must be able to rely on the information 100 percent of the time, and they must have it instantly at their fingertips—seconds are crucial during an emergency.
To put it bluntly, the job of first responders is one of such high regard, courage, and expertise that it is best to leave the world of public safety data to those who know it best. And though there is nothing wrong in creating one’s own detailed building records, staying out of the way of the professionals when that data needs to be accessed and used is always the right course of action.