Driven by the increase in work place and school violence, the omni-present threat of terrorism and the large number of natural disasters, the last decade saw vast improvements in emergency communication and safety technology. From video analytics, to public safety broadband infrastructure, to Next Gen 911 and improved mobile phone location capabilities, to interoperability progress and early notification tools like panic buttons, there has been no lack of technology innovation. However, we still have plenty of work to do to ensure emergency communication and security technology meet the challenge of protecting citizens and enabling better, faster responses.  

As the new year gets under way and we think about the next decade of improvements in security and safety, everyone from public officials to campus safety leaders and corporate security personnel are focused on improving communication and responses with the help of technology. Here are the trends security professionals, public safety agencies and vendors can expect to see in 2020 and beyond.


Increased Collaboration Between Private Security and Local Law Enforcement

Safety directors at businesses, schools, colleges and healthcare facilities alike are already working together with emergency management agencies to leverage private emergency assets or identify risks. As all involved see increasing value in this type of coordination, we’ll see more even more collaboration between those tasked with leading safety and security at a particular campus or business and the public agencies tasked with protecting the area.

When an emergency occurs at a school or business, both internal and external stakeholders need to be notified and in constant contact with each other. This year, more safety and security professionals at businesses and colleges will work closely with law enforcement and 9-1-1 to collaborate on safety and communication plans and ensure lines of communication are open. We’ll see adoption of more technologies that allow agencies to better communicate across key community stakeholders in an open, secure, and quick manner, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and saving time during emergency responses. Collaboration and interoperability will become the mantra for improved safety.


Data Will Continue to Drive Better Responses, but Not Without Debate

With information sharing between agencies on the rise, the use of data across the security and safety industry—from monitoring social media for potential threats to creating vulnerable needs registries—will be a growing topic.

While citizens’ concern that their data could be misused or compromised is understandable, it’s crucial that safety and security professionals in both the private and public sectors have as much information as possible to best respond to emergency situations—and hopefully even prevent them before they occur. When properly coupled with user control over privacy and permissions, residents and facility administrators can easily provide life-saving information to appropriate officials. This data can be used to identify those who need assistance during weather emergencies and evacuations or provide critical medical information, such as floor plans to first responders during a 9-1-1 call.


A Focus on Security When Implementing Safety Technology

As technological advancements bring new tools that safety and security professionals can deploy on campuses, at workplaces and beyond, cybersecurity will remain top of mind—especially as cities defend against cyberattacks that impact municipal operations and communication with citizens, like the 2018 incident that cost the City of Atlanta more than $2.6 million. Businesses, schools and other organizations face the same risks cities do, and will prioritize defenses against hacking and other threats from those with bad intentions as they bring on the technology needed to help protect students and employees alike.

Providers of security and safety technology must implement authentication and user safeguards and ensure that physical and cybersecurity is at the top of their priority list. Aggressive independent penetration testing, code scans and a constant state of vigilance is required. 

Public trust is a key element to ensure first responders and safety officials are able to effectively perform their jobs – that trust is earned by “feet on the street” engagement, as well as through best in class information technology infrastructure and policies. In 2020 and the coming years, citizens will share more information with security and safety officials to get the personalized response they’ve come to expect from the other areas of their lives.

Armed with more information than ever before and the technology needed to ensure secure, efficient collaboration between all stakeholders invested in safety, emergency response will be more effective than ever before.