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Vendor's Corner: Technology and Emergency 9-1-1 Operations

Author: Robert Wolf, VP Public Safety and Emergency Management, NC4

Copyright: 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Date: 2011-09-01
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Using Technologies to Connect the Emergency Information Dots – from the Initial 9-1-1 Call to the Field Response

It wasn't too long ago that the viability of the Internet was questioned. Remember Y2K and the dot-bomb? Remember the bricks we use to carry around that we called cell phones? What a difference ten years can make. Technologies that were dreamt of in the movies are now realities. Spielberg's 2002 movie MINORITY REPORT gave us a glimpse of where touch screen technology was heading, a technology that is now being used in emergency operations to view real-time data as it's happening.

As the last ten years have seen huge advancements in the communication technologies we use in our everyday connected lifestyles with smart phones, tablet PCs, netbooks, and the like, there has also been a paradigm shift in how we gather, consume and disseminate information, aka "content". No longer must we rely on the media for telling us what is happening around the world, but we now can plug directly into news channels via social media outlets, situational awareness alerting services, blogs, etc. to gather and push information. In today's Information Age, the underlying technologies are becoming transparent to the end-users so that we can gather, share and disseminate information regardless of the device we are using, or where we are located. We can be sitting at our desk using our PC, and then drive across town and have seamless access to the same information using our smart phone.

Cities and counties across the country are able to reap the benefits of these technologies to increase productivity and effectiveness, and do more with less. Applications used for gathering, sharing and disseminating information, combined with the smart phone and computer technologies, ease viewing and manipulation of the information by the user community. The ability to disseminate information from a 9-1-1 call center to a first responder in real-time allows all personnel to keep informed about emerging situations, heightening situational awareness.

While it is exciting to be able to take what was once a static list of data marked-up by grease pencil on an overhead projector and now dynamically interact with the data on a touch screen, overlaying maps, widgets and incredible graphics, technology advances must be balanced with the community of users' ability to use the technology and sustain it. Organizations need to partner with a technology company that is committed to delivering technologies that are useful and meaningful. Perhaps more importantly, organizations need to partner with a technology company that understands their role in the overall mission, because technology is not the answer. Empowering people to work more effectively is the answer.

Robert Wolf is the Vice President overseeing NC4's Public Safety and Emergency Management operations. In his role as Vice President, Wolf works with existing customers to help define future solutions, as well as focuses on delivering value in NC4's products and solutions to customers involved in public safety and emergency management. 

NC4 delivers Situational Readiness solutions that revolutionize how government and businesses collect, manage, share and disseminate information to mitigate risks, manage incidents, and securely communicate and collaborate with one another. For more information on NC4, see


Left:NC4's E•SPONDER touch-screen interface to Microsoft Surface provides a visual and tactile dashboard to navigate through information, communicate with personnel and make executive decisions quickly and effectively. Photo via NC4.


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