Assistive AI can revolutionize public safety collaboration
Cloud-based collaboration supported by artificial intelligence can generate the insights that help multiple agencies operate efficiently across routine and major incidents.
Imagine your city is hosting a major music festival, sports championship or political campaign event.
With 100,000 visitors crowding in at once, there’s no end to the need for coordination among city, state and county public safety agencies, not to mention businesses, hospitals, hotels and transportation. Dozens of agencies scramble to plan and coordinate, using email, radios, cell phones and even low-tech solutions like whiteboards.
For decades, low-tech has gotten the job done by facilitating rudimentary collaboration. But in the digital age, public safety agencies need to think beyond the whiteboard.
Data has never been more available or easier to share, even across geographic and jurisdictional boundaries. This presents an opportunity for agencies to make more informed decisions and increase situational awareness in the field. At a music festival, for example, every city agency involved can be easily brought into the loop in real-time with information from each organization flowing into a cloud-based common operating picture.
Of course, there is a technology hurdle when moving from old-school analog collaboration to digital data sharing in the cloud, but not every agency involved in managing a major event needs to have a technology upgrade. If one coordinating agency is equipped with a cloud-based collaboration system, partner agencies and their data can easily be included.
The coordinating agency can send email invitations to each partner, giving them access to the system’s map of the event site and communications channels. Once connected through the cloud, all partners can see, send and receive data.
Shared data can be restricted by the participants, and access can be limited to a specific event, preventing breaches of confidential information.
Increasing amounts of data can often lead to information overload, making it difficult for personnel to keep up with changing situations if they are manually monitoring incoming information.
Assistive AI, running in the background, takes the burden off staff by mining data as it comes in and alerting personnel to pertinent trends and anomalies. This ensures agencies have vital incident and event information as it unfolds in real time, giving all involved the insight they need to not just respond to situations but predict and head off potential problems.
Going back to the music festival example, if the AI identifies a potential traffic jam, transportation managers can preemptively open more lanes and provide alternate routes. An incoming storm system triggers the AI to suggest early warnings and the activation of sheltering plans to participating departments.
Thanks to AI, agencies can spend more time preventing issues than reacting to them.
Agencies need to collaborate on a regular basis, not just for major public events. Though more data likely comes in at a higher rate during major events, agencies already face a data deluge with the increasingly common adoption of sensors, alarms and video across cities. Having assistive AI is equally effective in parsing through that data for day-to-day operations and even solving crimes.
For example, in a real-time crime or intelligence center, analysts can use assistive AI to discover trends they might not have noticed: Five armed robberies in three separate municipalities across the metro are at similar businesses; the vehicle spotted leaving each scene has the same description and license plate number; the weapon used was identical in all instances. With that data at their fingertips, analysts can begin developing a suspect profile.
It can also help agencies collaborate with organizations outside public safety. If the National Weather Service predicts 10 inches of rain in a low-lying area, the AI can flag potential danger zones. Utilities can then be alerted to manage the water flow, and emergency responders and relief agencies can prepare residents to evacuate before flooding begins. By detecting patterns and anomalies sooner than a human could, assistive AI allows agencies to connect faster and act sooner, reducing the effect on communities, resources and staff.
Cloud-based collaboration supported by assistive AI can help eliminate the data silos that keep agencies from efficiently cooperating across geographic and bureaucratic boundaries and generate the insights that help them operate efficiently across routine and major incidents.
Ultimately, the more collaboration succeeds, the faster communication barriers fall and communities benefit from improved public safety.
Kalyn Sims is chief technology officer, safety & security, with Hexagon’s Safety, Infrastructure & Geospatial Division.