When fire service leaders look to acquire and adopt new technologies, we need to ensure we lead through the technology we implement – not be led by it. This concept is something I have witnessed again and again as fire agencies implement new technology integration into operations – we all want to have the “shiny new toy,” and we buy it impulsively.
I’ve been lucky over the last few years to spend a lot of time with emerging fire service technology through partnerships with Esri, TEEX, the IAFC, and the California Fire Chiefs Association. These partnerships have led to national presentations on technology integration and to consulting with agencies as they build technology integration plans. If you do not have a technology integration plan, you should; technology deserves strategic implementation! (But that is a different article.)
The fire service technology vendors that we need to partner with to achieve this, should be thought leaders and innovators in technology. Sadly, the prevailing philosophies often fail to deliver a path to utilize their platforms in a way that continually adds value to our operations. To most effectively analyze why this problem exists, we need to look at the two current types of vendors in our space:
1. Incumbent Software Vendors who are focused on compliance and the "do it only because you have to" mentality. Many vendors in this space do not actively listen to our true problems in the field and are built on legacy technology architectures and business models that do not align with the current and future needs of a modern public safety agency. As our demands grow and change, these vendors across CAD, RMS, and Mobile Response struggle to keep up with the pace of the industry. Consequently, we (fire service leaders) are often left being led by the systems we have in place.
2. Newer Entrants that excel in solving niche problems using cutting-edge technologies, but all too often fall into the "shiny new toy" category and simply do not fit holistically into our operations. As a result, these solutions often do not get used to their full potential, and their value is not realized. In short, these companies are focused on building features, but not providing us with platforms to manage core process end-to-end.
However, there is a third rapidly-emerging vendor that is becoming more prevalent in the world of public safety technology – one that is poised to deliver the answers to many of our most profound challenges.
While reviewing technology with vendors, agencies, and other stakeholders on the IAFC Technology Council, I have had the opportunity to work closely with many of these types of emerging public safety technology companies that fit this criterion, including Intterra, Tablet Command, Esri, and with First Due. I want to use First Due as a case study in this model. (I am not associated with First Due, nor do I profit in any way from this article; this is just a great company to use as a case-study!)
First Due is a SaaS (Software as a Service) based platform reimagining pre-incident planning (pre-plans) and emergency response by ensuring agencies have the critical data they need on every structure (including commercial and residential occupancies) before, during, and after an incident.
To learn more about common technology challenges and how First Due addresses them by partnering with the fire service and other public safety agencies, read the full article here (PDF).