Securing public safety with cloud and SaaS technology

The public safety industry is notoriously risk averse, and the concept of migrating to the cloud can cause apprehension, but cloud-based public safety platforms provide agencies with resilient infrastructure. The cloud offers agencies many benefits, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions expand those benefits.

IaaS and SaaS

Every public safety platform looks different. Deployments can be on-premises, in the cloud or hybrid, and infrastructure or software can be provided as a service.

In initial deployments, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) may be an easier choice. It offers more security than an on-premises system, but also means unrealized cloud benefits, like redundancy or elasticity. IaaS leaves an agency to maintain the hardware of its public safety platform, much like an on-premises system. SaaS, meanwhile, is a layer of service on top of an agency’s software. SaaS leaves updates, maintenance, patching and expansions to the vendor.

SaaS offers public safety professionals more freedom

SaaS is more than just the benefits of the cloud. It allows public safety employees to focus on the critical day-to-day work, without having to think about the processes that get them done.

“You don’t need to know how Microsoft keeps Outlook running,” said Tunde Farrell, vice president of cloud technologies at Hexagon’s Safety, Infrastructure & Geospatial division. “You just need to know that it’s going to be there.”

Public safety platforms require less agency attention with SaaS deployments. Vendors are proactive instead of reactive, allowing agencies the freedom to not need to report an issue. Vendors committed to a good customer experience and letting public safety agencies move at their own pace toward tomorrow’s technology should know there’s an issue, resolve it before it affects the agency, make the agency aware of the problem and reassure the agency that steps have been taken to avoid the issue in the future.

Apart from this peace of mind, public safety agencies can find benefits in SaaS when it comes to configurable alerts. There are a variety of ways for agencies to choose to receive internal notifications of issues related to the database room, unavailable service, security alerts and more. Each implementation is based on what the agency decides it needs.

A shift in mindset about the cloud

Many new public safety platform expansions are about moving to the cloud. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the cloud made people more skeptical. Security was a mystery, and there were concerns about losing internet service. But with a trusted vendor, implementation teams work closely with project managers to follow global data laws and observe each customer’s data rules. And whether a public safety platform is in the cloud or not, most software is internet enabled. The cloud dives deeper into strategy when it comes to internet loss. A partner can provide network connectivity through many modes of transmission, like satellite or mobile.

“There was distrust about the cloud before the pandemic,” said Farrell. “Culturally, people started doing tasks that used to be in person on systems hosted in the cloud. People are using the cloud in their daily workflows. It’s no longer mysterious. It’s more trustworthy and seen because people are using it.”

The cloud allows public safety agencies to focus their IT teams on tasks other than hardware updates and turn analytics into actionable information. With the right partner, these cloud advantages can be combined with larger agencies’ abilities to expand services to surrounding agencies. Agencies want to securely share data within their larger systems. For instance, county agencies that are stretched thin can rely on mutual aid from a city agency with bandwidth, and the cloud enables data sharing between the two.

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