The Clash of Tactical and Enterprise
5 reasons why your public safety solution needs both
Powerful Greek gods inspire strong imagery. Intense and powerful, they all resided in some faraway place called Mount Olympus. You had Zeus, god of the sky and overall ruler; Poseidon, Zeus’s brother and god of the sea, as well as a number of other gods and goddesses who ruled the seasons, health, and even education. Then, you had the mere mortals who resided on Earth and could only do so much to communicate with and appease those gods.
It’s a bit similar when it comes to communication technology in public safety; there are enterprise-level solutions that allow a main office to oversee every move, as well as tactical-level solutions for communicating between people and back to that main office.
However, technology is starting to push the worlds together. Mere mortals are getting closer to Mount Olympus. Enterprise and tactical are getting closer to working seamlessly together. And for safety’s sake, they need to. Here are 5 reasons why:
- The tactical domain is a tough place to be.
Just like the mere mortals on earth, the tactical domain can use some help now and then. When it comes to communication technology most tools, networks and applications have been historically developed for the enterprise domain.
This is where the networks are stable, the bandwidth is large, and the ability to connect offices and buildings across a business enterprise is much easier to accomplish. But the capabilities available to those who work in the tactical domain are far less advanced.
Although we all have smart phones with a hundred apps that connect our worlds in ways we never imagined, this is not yet a reality for the tactical user in the field.
- Access to broadband data and information for the tactical public safety user is scarce.
Reliance on the public cellular infrastructure for public safety is risky. Without priority access to the network, officers are unable to access their data during times of crisis when the public surges in usage to check on loved ones.
Despite this risk, more agencies are connecting their operations with data modems in the patrol car or to a smart phone for professional use.
- NPSBN is coming.
The planned creation of the National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) by FirstNet will forever change the way public safety can operate. As it continues to evolve and improve, agencies can move their operational access to relevant information to the tactical users.
- It has been prophesized.
During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gen. Peter Chiarelli once said that the classic approach to command and control needed to flip upside down. He noted that in the past, all the knowledge and decisions were made in the command (enterprise) levels of our military leadership, where colonels and generals had access to all the information in large operations centers.
In 2008, he commented, “Today, we have young corporals on patrol in a major city who can make a split second decision that could become an international incident. We must get our information to that ‘strategic corporal’ so that he can be informed and make the right decision at the right time.”
The Army was able to address this challenge over frequently unstable network environments, far more constrained than commercial cellular or the envisioned NPSBN by FirstNet. It’s time to do the same with our public safety users.
- Early adopters are uniting
In the near future, the pendulum will shift dramatically. It is really a question of who the early adopters are in the public safety market and who will wait for the comfort and maturity of a well-proven community of technologies. But in public safety, a waiting game could be a dangerous one.
Think about your current operation and your current teams. Are the most connected users enterprise or tactical? The right answer should be both—with appropriate capability, usability and devices for the role and the environment in which the users operate.