The public safety tools that are catching on with police departments

Thu, 2016-11-10 13:18 -- SCC Partner

If you asked your residents what their biggest concerns are, public safety would likely be at nearly the top of the list. That’s true for most every major city. And providing it is a tough job.

A new survey of Washington, D.C., residents highlights some of the challenges. First, very few of the people who see or are the victims of crime ever call the police. Second, while police/community relations seem to be improving, there are still significant numbers of some groups who don’t trust cops.

Technology can help with both issues. We’ve asked Onvia, a leading business-to-government market analyst to share some of its findings regarding technology that’s catching on with police departments across the country. Its findings are worth a look. — Kevin Ebi


City police departments have more tools at their fingertips than ever before to ensure the safety and confidence of the public.

Body cameras, dashboard cameras and gunshot detectors are some of the technology solutions city agencies and police departments are turning to in order to keep their citizens safe and informed.

Gunshot Detectors
Public safety is a common reason for agencies to make the investment towards becoming smart cities and enhancing livability for their citizens. One way some cities are approaching this is by investing in gunshot detection.

Gunshot detectors use a network of digital microphones installed on buildings, along streets or in other public places. The detectors listen for noises that sound like gunshots, triangulate where the shooting is coming from and alert 911 dispatchers. The network covers a particular area of coverage of a city but can easily be expanded.

This solution comes from a variety of vendors, although the primary system used in smart cities is the ShotSpotter system, which is installed in 90 major U.S. cities. The city of Louisville, for example, is preparing to spend $200,000 to train personnel and install a ShotSpotter gunshot detection system to cover a three-square-mile area.

For some agencies, budget pressures have been an obstacle preventing the implementation of gunshot detection technology. But many cities have found this technology to be effective, successful and worth the investment. In Camden, NJ, police have found that using this system reduced gun incidents by 49%.

Body and Dashboard Cameras
Building trust between law enforcement departments and the general public is increasingly important. To address this by providing extra levels of transparency, cities are setting aside money to invest in body cameras and dashboard cameras.

Body cameras are small video cameras that can be worn on an officer’s uniform. These cameras record audio and video at crime scenes or other police encounters. Dashboard cameras (alternatively referred to as “dash cams” or “in-car cameras”) are typically mounted on the dashboard of a vehicle, like a police car. These are particularly useful for capturing footage of car chases or other events taking place close to the vehicle.

A byproduct of this is thousands of hours of video, captured on a regular basis, that city police departments need to store. Cloud storage solutions have become a popular video storage option for many due to the virtually unlimited space the cloud has to offer. On the other hand, some agencies are keeping their data in-house for flexibility, control and integration with other technology initiatives.

Although many agencies are embracing smart policing, these technologies are still emerging. Government buyers are looking for guidance in implementing solutions like gunshot detection, body cameras and dashboard cameras, giving vendors the opportunity to act as consultative partners.

Nick Schiffler is a business-to-government (B2G) market analyst and content marketer for Onvia, leading commerce intelligence at the core of the B2G marketplace. Follow Onvia on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay up to date with the latest government market insights.

Smart Cities Readiness Guide…
Check out the Public Safety chapter of the Smart Cities Readiness Guide for tips for building your safety plan that makes the most effective use of technology.