Communities rely on public safety organizations in a crisis. Whether a community is hit by a natural disaster, an infrastructure failure (such as a blackout), a traffic pileup, or an act of violence, first responders need to be connected 24/7. Fire, police, and EMTs must be able to coordinate with each other, get to the scene, and solve the problem, all within minutes.
But what happens when public safety headquarters are affected by the same crisis that effects the community? These hubs must have a robust disaster recovery plan to keep their emergency response departments operating during and after a crisis.
KEEPING LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN
keep-communication-lines-open-with-firstlightPublic Safety consists of numerous agencies that must work seamlessly to respond to an incident. After an emergency, public safety personnel may need to maintain lines of communication both within and outside of their jurisdiction.
In the past, public safety organizations were hindered by a reliance on landlines, on-premises PBX systems or unreliable cellphone communication.
To stay in constant communication, public safety organizations need a reliable and high-speed network. The network should have built-in redundancy to guard against single points of failure. Cloud-based communication solutions are often resilient at the core, allowing public safety workers to leverage tools like single number reach (SNR), web-based administration and redirecting of inbound calls and of course, an “always on” solution for standard inbound communication that could provide recorded information and handle a burst of inbound calls during a crisis. To access the cloud, public safety officials must have connectivity. When communication is supported by the right network provider, options such as redundant network connections on diverse pathways, or secondary connections can be employed to reduce points of failure.
ACCESSING AND SHARING INFORMATION
Having access to real-time information is the key to resolving a crisis quickly. Police and fire rescue need to obtain and share data, images, and video. This information could include floor plans, video surveillance, or the medical records of victims.
If networks or databases have been disabled by the traumatic incident, first responders are forced to operate blindly. They may not know where assailants or victims are located or how to reach them. First responders may not even be aware of the precise nature of the incident.
WHAT’S YOUR EMERGENCY?
Without a reliable 911 system, first responders may not be aware of an emergency. Communities across the country found this out the hard way when a recent outage disabled the 911 systems.
A citizen in Boston was forced to use an old-fashioned signal box on the side of the street to report a house fire. Community members in other cities were directed to drive to a fire or police station or call public safety organizations directly if their 911 calls failed to go through.
To prevent 911 outages, call centers need to have redundant systems in place. Calls need to be processed with little latency. Dispatchers also need to have uninterrupted access to data so they can locate victims quickly and accurately and send first responders to the right place.
PUBLIC SAFETY IN THE CLOUD
It is important that a real disaster recovery solution be in place for the applications and data that public safety relies upon during a crisis. A data center outage could result in prolonged downtime and if this were to happen at the wrong time then the hardship of that outage would increase exponentially. To guard against this, critical applications and data can be replicated to the cloud for a cloud-based DR solution. This would allow access during a crisis. With cloud, the burden of uptime shifts to connectivity as data can only be accessed if users have the ability to connect to that data. It can be a daunting task to think about all of the eventualities that officials may need to deal with during a crisis, but a solution provider can ease that burden by providing cloud-based solutions, along with redundant connectivity, to help with the goal of 100% uptime.
FirstLight has specialized expertise in helping public safety agencies with disaster recovery and connectivity. We understand that our cloud services are only as good as the network that supports them. Our extensive high-speed fiber optic network with options for added redundancy ensures that public safety organizations maintain reliable connectivity after an emergency so they can make decisions based on accurate, real-time data.