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Communication Technology Problems and Needs of Rural First Responders



Kerrianne Buchanan, Yee-Yin Choong, Shanee Dawkins, Sandra Spickard Prettyman


Although new technology may benefit rural first responders to help them serve their communities, to date little is known about what communication technology problems rural first responders most need addressed and what future technology they desire. To explore the context of use and communication technology problems and needs of rural first responders, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 63 rural first responders across four disciplines: Communications (Comm) Center & 9-1-1 Services, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Service, and Law Enforcement. Using qualitative data analysis, interview data were sorted into problems and needs categories. Rural first responders' greatest problems were with reliable coverage/connectivity, interoperability, implementation/information technology (IT) infrastructure, and physical ergonomics. Rural first responders' greatest need for new technology was to address their current problems, but they were interested in new technology that leverages real-time technology and location tracking. Implications for researchers and developers of public safety communication technology are discussed.
Conference Dates
May 23-26, 2021
Conference Location
Blacksburg, VA, US
Conference Title
18th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management


Communication technology, context of use, first responders, public safety, rural communities, usability


Buchanan, K. , Choong, Y. , Dawkins, S. and Spickard Prettyman, S. (2021), Communication Technology Problems and Needs of Rural First Responders, 18th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, Blacksburg, VA, US, [online], (Accessed July 15, 2024)


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Created July 27, 2021, Updated October 14, 2021