The Role of Smart Phones and Citizens in Improving Situational Awareness of First Responders


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This market insight considers case studies, the benefits
of smart phone technology in policing and how industry and police forces need to work
together to develop proprietary systems to leverage an unprecedented opportunity to share

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The Role of Smart Phones and Citizens in Improving Situational Awareness of First Responders

  1. 1. Market Insight: The Role of Smart Phones and Citizens in Improving Situational Awareness of First Responders Steven Webb, Vice-President – Aerospace, Defence & Security Saverio Romeo, Senior Industry Analyst, Information and Communications Technologies
  2. 2. The Role of Smart Phones and Citizens in Increasing Situational Awareness of First Responders Introduction Effective policing and timely response to city threats relies on, amongst other issues, sound and actionable intelligence. The emergence of advanced analytics, smart technologies and improved communications will drive a more proactive approach to serious crime and terrorism as the depth and accuracy of information continues to improve, enabling first responders to identify crime patterns or safety threats in advance of an incident. These new technologies will play an increasingly important role in crime prevention. The advent of the smartphone is a further technology that can improve the performance of police forces. In developed countries police force numbers are generally decreasing against a trend of higher populations and increased urbanization. The requirement for police forces and first responders to be more effective with fewer officers is a key issue facing many metropolitan areas. Whilst there is little doubt that improved communications and smartphones can improve the performance of First Responders such as counter-terrorism units, police forces and disaster response teams, the prevalence of smart phone usage amongst civilians is generating debate over the role of the citizen as an extension to the police force. Leveraging intelligence provided from citizens should, in theory, provide first responders with the ability to react quickly to more threats. Citizen engagement with first responders is by no means a new concept. Community safety programs and neighbourhood watch schemes have been around for years with the aim of building a better working relationship between citizens and police forces. Emergency numbers have enabled citizens to alert First Responders to crimes or threats. However, until now the technology at the disposal of the citizen has been extremely low tech and has not enabled First Responders and citizens to engage in efficient and real time intelligence sharing. Smartphone usage can change this as citizens move from reporting crime to communicating potential threats. Whilst there are already cases of citizens supporting police forces through providing photos and video of events (pre, during and post), there are also significant challenges to leveraging additional intelligence. This market insight considers case studies, the benefitsMarket Insight of smart phone technology in policing and how industry and police forces need to work together to develop proprietary systems to leverage an unprecedented opportunity to share intelligence. © 2011 Frost & Sullivan
  3. 3. The Role of Smart Phones and Citizens in Increasing Situational Awareness of First Responders Mobile Data Traffic in the Era of “Big Data” In today’s society, data is increasingly shaping the way that we live and interact. Statisticians have coined the term “big data” to describe the continuous – and exponential – growth of computing power and databases that characterize our economies and societies. The evolution of the telecommunications industry has been the medium for this growth, moving from a world of voice to a world of data. As shown in the figure below, global mobile data traffic is increasing dramatically; by the end of 2014, traffic volumes are expected to reach 3.6 million terabytes (TB) per month, a near 40-fold increase over 2009 levels. Figure 1 – Mobile data traffic volumes are increasing at an exponential rate. 4,000,000 Mobile Data Traffic (TB/month) 3,500,000 3,000,000 2,500,000 2,000,000 1,500,000 1,000,000 500,000 0 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Source: Cisco VNI Mobile, 2010 The Rise of Smartphones and Connected Devices The ubiquity of computing and the proliferation of intelligent mobile connected devices – including smartphones, tablets, netbooks, e-readers and sensors – has been the other driving force behind the rise of data traffic. The number of smartphones is growing rapidly. Frost & Sullivan estimates that the number of smartphones shipped annually will reach 500 million units by 2015, as illustrated in the figure below.Market Insight © 2011 Frost & Sullivan
  4. 4. The Role of Smart Phones and Citizens in Increasing Situational Awareness of First Responders Figure 2 – Smartphone OS Shipments Forecast (World), 2009-2015 500.0 450.0 400.0 Shipments (Millions) 350.0 300.0 250.0 200.0 150.0 100.0 50.0 0.0 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Source: Frost & Sullivan But the world of smart devices is not purely focused on smartphones. Tablets, netbooks, e- readers, portable media players and environment-specific devices such as TV set boxes, sensors, and navigation devices are all part of the world of connected devices. These are all devices that are not just for the final consumers, and not just for their communications and entertainment needs, but also for other uses in our daily lives. Companies and public organizations are increasingly adopting intelligent devices such as smartphones and tablets for making their activities more efficient and cost-effective. And this is a trend that we will continue to observe along the coming years. The presence of smart mobile devices in our societies will become increasingly ubiquitous, almost disappearing in the background of our lives like the light switch. Fantasy, Fiction or Reality? Smartphone usage in crime prevention is not new. There are many cases where smartphones have been used to record crimes and the evidence has been used to successfully prosecute. A more valuable use of smartphones is capturing data and communicating with First Responders real time to prevent a threat before it occurs or to reduce response times.Market Insight Dallas police department offer iWatch Dallas to tap into and promote community intelligence. Launched in 2010, it can be accessed through iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Symbian platforms. The department provides citizens with guidelines about what to report and the information received is processed at the intelligence gathering unit, The © 2011 Frost & Sullivan
  5. 5. The Role of Smart Phones and Citizens in Increasing Situational Awareness of First Responders Fusion Center - a team of 25 officers. Decisions are taken at the Fusion Center on whether officers should be deployed to follow-up on the tip. The solution provider, ithinqware, provides the solution either through a dedicated host or as a SAAS model and has built a similar solution for LAPD with a focus on counter terrorism. A further application of smartphones is leveraging the technology to improve communication and relationships with the community. Runnymede Police, UK, recently launched a new application to improve engagement with residents. The app is available to download for free and allows residents to view what crimes are happening in their area and provides live updates and the action the police are taking. The application was developed by Multizone Ltd, a social and mobile software specialist, with support provided by Vodafone and Huawei. Smartphones also provide other potential benefits to first responders including aggregated human behaviour intelligence. Although this is not necessarily an example of proactive intelligence sharing between first responders and citizens, the US safety initiative E911 has mandated that all mobile phones must be locatable and this allows First Responders to track and learn from movements in cities. An extension of this is the possibility for the police to track movements of suspects. The MPS, London, UK, has bought software from Geotime that allows them to track individuals and manage public order disturbances through information gathered from GPS devices such as smartphones. Challenges bring Opportunities New technology and solutions always face challenges and leveraging smart phones and citizen intelligence is no different. A significant challenge to tapping into citizen intelligence is the problem of distinguishing between what is a potential crime and what is not? Whilst officers receive training and develop experience through their work, the citizen is uneducated in crime prevention, inexperienced and likely to report a high number of false alarms or provide incomplete information that might be valuable. Managing and processing this level of data requires significant police resource against a backdrop of falling officer numbers and budget reductions. Nevertheless all information is important providing it canMarket Insight be turned into actionable intelligence and the role of advanced analytics is not to be underestimated in allowing officers to effectively leverage data. © 2011 Frost & Sullivan
  6. 6. The Role of Smart Phones and Citizens in Increasing Situational Awareness of First Responders Handling vast amounts of data also poses problems. In many cases communication networks are not capable of handling the volume of data that may be provided by the public whilst the cost of data storage will be significant. Further concerns exist regarding privacy and this is likely to impact adoption rates at a country or regional level. The high level of video surveillance in the UK suggests that there would be higher acceptance of leveraging smart phones to empower the citizen than other European countries where CCTV and privacy is a greater concern. The example of iWatchLA also highlights potential problems with racial profiling and petty reporting. However, these issues need to be overcome. The opportunity presented by smartphones to create Safe Cities is too great to ignore. Conclusion Smartphones usage will only become more prevalent and police forces need to consider how they can make best use of the technology. Industry has a key role to play in helping forces find solutions for cutting through vast amounts of information to generate actionable intelligence. Standard COTS solutions are not what are needed. Police forces have different priorities and therefore information needs will differ significantly at a country, city and department level. Systems Integrators need to work more closely with specialist technology providers and in cooperation with the First Responders to develop the right solution. About Frost & Sullivan Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Consulting Company, partners with clients to accelerateMarket Insight their growth. The companys Growth Partnership Services, Growth Consulting and Career Best Practices empower clients to create a growth focused culture that generates, evaluates and implements effective growth strategies. Frost & Sullivan employs over 45 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community from more than 30 offices on six continents. For more information about Frost & Sullivan’s Growth Partnerships, visit © 2011 Frost & Sullivan