Adapting current processes to a mobile setting is an innovation that can reap great reward, but it is necessary to consider if the utilization of mobile really is the right choice to improve the purpose at hand. Time after time again I remind myself that “Technology helps you do business differently, but the right strategy is not technology-focused.” This quote from George Westerman’s article “Your Company Doesn’t Need a Digital Strategy” is a great reminder when considering which tools to utilize to find a business solution.
Mobile usage has infiltrated our lives in essentially every aspect. This has presented many use cases that do not follow the advice above, yet as users, we have learned to recognize this and the downfalls of incorrect mobile utilization quite rapidly. Due to this when I see buzzwords relating to ‘mobile usage’ and ‘innovation’ I am hesitant to fully buy into the idea. Yet as I started to see more buzz around mobile use for first responders, my interest grew.
Evident advantages of mobile technology include higher efficiency and productivity, increased communication, growth of access to information, and more. Downfalls to many first responders’ processes often relate to these very same topics. Whether it’s a police or public safety force, health care, fire rescue, and EMS, or disaster response, the use cases for mobile technology in this environment are never-ending. I think mobile technology could directly address the current pain points for many of these environments.
Take the current challenge of technology for fingerprinting. It is currently only available in physical police stations, this, therefore, creates hardships for officers in rural areas where they may need to drive significant distances to have a suspect fingerprinted. Mobile technology would benefit public safety as it would create efficiencies for officers in the field, allotting for more time in the community and less recording proper fingerprints/paperwork at the station. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Public Safety Communication Research Division is currently running a challenge to innovators hoping to boost ideas around a smartphone/tablet application that has capabilities to assess the device’s sensors and capture high-quality digital fingerprint images that would be accepted by the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. Which is the national system for digitally storing companying and exchanging fingerprint data, his system is maintained by the FBI.
When considering the technical wireframe and user interface for a mobile application with the capabilities above, there are multiple concerns and potential technology gaps that come to mind. The first is security, of course this would be on top of the list for requirements when creating technology of this scale. There would need to be at least 3 levels of authentication including a third party, a secure software database, and highly secured and virtual private networks. In addition to security concerns, developers need to consider the technical specifications for the process of capturing a non-distorted and high-quality fingerprint image (In regards to the identification use case.)
All in all, I am intrigued by the potential for the introduction of mobile technology in the first responder realm. I think it would not only benefit efficiencies in first responder agencies, but it would address inequalities among those being served in these environments as well. This broad range of benefits would attract a wide range of supporters. Therefore I think mobile usage, in this case, would be a recommended tool. The only thing missing is the specifications, a prototype, and a bit of code!
“The Benefits of Mobile Innovation to First Responder Agencies.” Asavie, 26 Aug. 2020, https://www.asavie.com/the-benefits-of-mobile-innovation-to-first-responder-agencies/.
Chris, US Digital Design Staff. “The Impact of Mobile Technology on Firefighters and First Responders.” Fire Apparatus, 1 Sept. 2021, https://www.fireapparatusmagazine.com/the-fire-station/usdd-mobile-alerting-applications/#gref.
“How Mobile Apps and Data Are Empowering First Responders.” Samsung Knox, https://www.samsungknox.com/en/blog/how-mobile-apps-and-data-are-empowering-first-responders.
“Mobile Technology.” Advantages and Disadvantages of Mobile Technology, https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/advantages-and-disadvantages-mobile-technology.
“Secured by Knox.” Samsung Knox, https://www.samsungknox.com/en/secured-by-knox.
Stephanie KanowitzOct 08, 2021. “Challenge Seeks Mobile Fingerprint Capture Tech for Responders.” GCN, https://gcn.com/articles/2021/10/08/mfit-mobile-fingerprint-capture.aspx.
Westerman, George. “Your Company Doesn’t Need a Digital Strategy.” MITSloan Management Review, vol. 59, no. 3, 2018.