What you need to know:
as part of a file exploratory study Commissioned by Verizon Frontline and conducted by Lexipol, first responders across the country were asked how their organizations used public safety communications technology, how well they felt their agencies were to respond to the crisis and how they felt the technology would change the way they operate in the future. Key findings from the survey of nearly 2,000 first responders—which included representation from public safety response points and emergency call centers as well as the police, fire, and emergency medical communities—included:
- Network and speed are the most important: First responders largely believe that reliability and speed are the most important aspects of a public safety network, especially during emergencies. More than three-quarters of first responders (77%) said reliability and flexibility were the number one factor in daily use, and nearly 60% requested stronger connections in the field.
- Smartphones are the tool of choice for public safety: Almost all first responders (92%) say that smartphones and tablets will remain essential daily communication tools in the next five years. Ground portable radios (LMR) are used daily by 89% of first responders but use is slowly declining.
- More devices means more connected: Public safety leaders have said that smartphones will remain their most important technology tool, but that internet-connected vehicles will become a much greater priority over the next five years, with the growing popularity of other technologies such as augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) applications.
- 5G is a major priority: First responders say the benefits of 5G will have an important impact on the future of public safety, with the vast majority (77%) recognizing 5G as a priority.
New York If first responders have their way, the future of public safety will include more devices connected to the Internet, a continued focus on network reliability and resilience during emergency response operations and more demand for 5G in the years to come.
These are among the key findings of the Verizon Frontline Public Safety Communications study by Lexipol, which asked nearly 2,000 first responders in fire and police departments, emergency medical services organizations, public safety response points and emergency call centers about public safety communication technology. their use now and in the future.
The results demonstrated a strong reliance on smartphones, a growing interest in new devices such as drones and the benefits of 5G, and a continuing demand for network reliability and features such as interoperability when responding to emergencies.
Reliability and speed are the top priority of the network
When asked what they wanted most from a public safety communications provider, first responders overwhelmingly identified network reliability and speed as their top priorities.
In daily use, more than three-quarters of first responders (77%) say reliability and flexibility are their number one factor today, followed by cost (13%) and customer service (4%). In emergency situations, reliability and flexibility are most important (81%), followed by interoperability (47%) and durable hardware ownership (46%).
To further achieve these results, first responders identified an unreliable network, outdated tools, and lack of interoperability as the top three challenges they face with current public safety communications technology.
Smartphones dominate daily work
First responders largely believe that smartphones and tablets will remain the primary daily communication tools in the next five years, with 92% of respondents saying they use a smartphone and 47% reporting tablet use daily. Ground-based portable radios (LMR) are used daily by 89% of first responders, but the survey shows that LMR use is expected to drop to 79% within five years.
A new generation of technology, including internet-connected vehicles, drones, and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) applications, such as those that allow dangerous training scenarios to be replicated in an AR/VR environment, is expected to grow exponentially. In popularity in the next five years. Survey respondents say they expect the use of internet-connected vehicles, such as ambulances, patrol cars and fire trucks, to increase in daily use, from 41% today to 64% by 2027.
Drones could see an even greater increase in daily use, growing from 8% today to 40% in five years. AR and VR may also be gaining impressive numbers, from just 1% of first responders who report their daily use now to 20% expected in five years.
The future of public safety is more connected
Of all the technological challenges with current communication tools, first responders say the strength of communication is their biggest concern. When asked what features they would like to add to their communications technology, nearly 60% expressed a desire for stronger connections in the field. Other responses include faster upload and download speeds (39%), the ability to share location information with team members in the field (42%) and the ability to quickly share photos, videos, and other files from the field (37%).
When asked to look forward to the top priorities of public safety agencies in five years, Internet-connected vehicles were the most popular choice among all first responders at 37%. This number was higher for emergency medical services at 41%. Fire departments had the most diverse priorities, with more firefighters choosing AR/VR training as a priority and less choosing smartphones and internet-connected vehicles when compared to other first responder groups.
Priority over 5G is growing
The survey also found that public safety professionals are ready to take advantage of the connectivity and enhanced technological capabilities offered by 5G.
First responders say the benefits of 5G, such as higher speed and lower latency, will have an important impact on the future of public safety, with the vast majority (77%) recognizing 5G as a priority. When respondents were asked about the benefits of 5G for public safety, first responders put reliability first (42%), followed by speed (34%), enhanced situational awareness and more efficient use of data (both 12%).
Verizon Frontline is the advanced network created for first responders—developed over nearly three decades of partnership with frontline public safety officials and agencies—to meet their unique and evolving needs.