Adopting new public safety software doesn’t have to be disruptive

As technology and service demands evolve, public safety agencies are at a crossroads. The industry is adapting to modern standards like Next-Generation 911 (NG911), and that means agencies are under pressure to digitally transform and implement advanced public safety software.

But adopting new public safety software without a plan can be disruptive.

How can upgrading public safety software disrupt agencies?

Public safety systems such as computer-aided dispatch (CAD) technology are complex and must be reliable. They are accessed hundreds or even thousands of times each day and must be operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That means changing or updating systems and equipment is a lengthy and complex exercise.

Despite relying on modern technologies, the public safety industry remains intrinsically cautious and risk averse so as to avoid disruptions in services. Call-takers, dispatchers, responders and other stakeholders count on technology in the public safety answering point (PSAP) or real-time crime center (RTCC) to be fully operational at all times. They are also bound by funding limitations.

That’s why, as many agencies have begun their digital transformation journeys, they end up using a mix of current and legacy technologies to provide their services. Comprehensive digital transformation can be challenging because it needs to integrate different channels of communication, real-time collaboration and assistive AI and allow for the modernization of different components as they become viable and feasible.

How can public safety agencies mitigate disruption?

With new technology implementations, disruption is hard to avoid. But the disruption that agencies will face can be mitigated, with the right preparation. Training is the first step to lessening the burden on public safety missions.

Public safety answering point (PSAP) employees know their dispatching systems and workflows like the backs of their hands. This is where most disruption comes from; they relearn workflows while maintaining their speed. Each person needs to be trained, and it should be more training than you think you will need. This can include one-on-one training with subject matter experts, videos or weekly communications about new features. Training is a requirement, but that’s becoming more inconceivable because of record low staffing numbers in public safety. Training requires staff to cover or get overtime to learn the new processes.

This is where vendor relationships can diffuse disruption. A vendor that has the experience of working with public safety agencies and understands the processes and importance of these organizations’ missions is going to implement its solution more successfully without disturbing the services of the PSAP. A vendor that is right for you will offer ways to achieve specific goals you have for them and help your agency embrace change. You can choose a solution that doesn’t require an engineer level of understanding through demos for your end users. Getting ahead of disruption requires PSAP awareness. System administrators knowing the new system workflows will mean they know how to divert disruption, but line-level workers need to know the intricacies of their new software, what changes are happening, when they are happening and to what degree they are happening.

At the end of the day, the key to mitigating the disruption is public safety leaders asking:

  • How do I plan for implementation?
  • How do I make sure my staff is prepared?

This means making sure everyone within the PSAP understands what’s coming, what areas of their world are changing. It means knowing what they’re doing today and knowing how it will be different tomorrow on those new systems. It is the only way to be prepared and mitigate disruption.

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