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Outdated technologies a risk for modern public safety – GCN.com

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By Bill Campbell
State and local governments are facing technology challenges that were unheard of even a few years ago. Every year, new and evolving cyber hazards are surfacing, and public safety agencies are increasingly in the crosshairs of attackers.
When a public safety agency is targeted, the impact can be far-reaching; critical systems are inaccessible and unusable, communication is shuttered and citizens are left at risk. But despite the rising threat vectors, many agencies are still relying on outdated IT solutions, which can make them even more susceptible to attack.
In that same vein, agencies not only need to protect data, but they also need to be able to share it. As public safety priorities are expanding, agencies need the ability to collaborate and share data – both between systems and across organizations. Siloed applications threaten incident response by slowing inter-and intra-agency communication and reducing situational awareness.
Though updated technology is a common need for agencies across the country, oftentimes archaic acquisition strategies, tough political climates and resistance to change make it difficult to implement new, advanced capabilities at all, let alone in a timely manner.
And given the complexities of protecting people and critical infrastructure, it’s no surprise that acquiring and integrating new technologies can be challenging. Change is hard for any organization, but especially for public safety agencies that deal with complex missions. And the larger the agency, the harder it is to change.
However, understanding the inherent risks associated with outdated technology is key to getting the momentum started. Cyber threats rising in volume and complexity, increasing costs of maintaining legacy systems incompatible with modern solutions, changes in regulatory compliance and other challenges are all strong motivators for adopting new technologies.
Additionally, seeing how other agencies have thrived with the move to modern solutions makes a strong case for change. DuPage County, Illinois, is a great example of going all in on data sharing and collaboration. Sixty-two agencies collaborated for a fully integrated, countywide public safety solution, including computer-aided dispatch, records management, analytics and mobile applications. This set-up houses a database capable of processing an incident from initiation through disposition, eliminating multiple entries, reducing clerical time and minimizing data entry errors. Additionally, the collaborative approach has enabled faster response times, with examples of multiple agencies being dispatched in about one minute, an unprecedented feat prior to implementing the countywide system.  
Moving forward, cities, states and the federal government can all benefit from the rapid implementation of solutions that protect citizens and assets. Now’s the time to embrace change and move into the future where public safety is nimble, effective and equipped with modern technology capable of meeting today’s challenges.  
NEXT STORY: How state and local leaders can use data to ensure broadband access for all
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