Obstacles to data sharing in public safety applications require more than technical solutions alone
Britta M. Voss
First responders today can leverage large quantities of multimedia data from a variety of sources within and outside their agencies, and the scope of this data sharing is growing rapidly. This expansion in capabilities comes with several technical challenges, such as the need for new interoperability standards and software tools that can make sense of the deluge of data. But many of the challenges facing public safety agencies using or considering implementing such technologies are not primarily technical in nature. In areas of governance, policy, and funding, new data sharing technologies exacerbate existing obstacles, such as resource limitations, and create new ones, such as legal risks of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Through an analysis of responses to structured interviews with first responders across the United States, we summarize the key non-technical challenges facing public safety use of emerging data sharing technologies. Based on the experiences and concerns shared by these first responders, we conclude that these challenges must be addressed simultaneously with research and development on technical solutions in order to ensure that these technologies deliver maximum benefit for emergency response applications.