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What Futuristic Technology Means for First Responders: Voices from the Field



Shanee Dawkins, Kerrianne Buchanan, Yee-Yin Choong, Kristen K. Greene


The public safety communication technology landscape in the United States (U.S.) is evolving to supplement the use of land mobile radios with the use of a broader spectrum of communication technologies for use on the newly created Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network. The goal of the multi-phase research study presented here was to understand the use of communication technologies by the user population of first responders— Comm Center & 9-1-1 Services; Emergency Medical Services; Fire Services; and Law Enforcement. The sequential, exploratory mixed methods study consisted of an initial exploratory qualitative phase followed by a larger quantitative phase. The qualitative data collection was via in-depth interviews with 193 first responders across the U.S.; 7,182 first responders across the U.S. completed the Phase 2 quantitative survey. This paper presents the results of the study related to first responders' perceptions about the future of public safety communication technology. Discussed are the technologies first responders think would benefit their individual user populations, as well as communication technologies that would be useful across user populations within the public safety domain. Results show that first responders are open to new and exciting technologies, but their needs are utility driven; to have the biggest impact, their communication technology must be tailored to their needs and contexts. This paper will present the needs of first responders, in their own voices, to aid in the research and development of public safety communication technology.
Proceedings Title
HCI International 2021 Conference Proceedings
Conference Dates
July 24-29, 2021
Conference Location
Washington, DC, US
Conference Title
HCI International 2021


Usability, User Survey, UX (User Experience), User Requirements, Public Safety, First Responders, Incident Response


Dawkins, S. , Buchanan, K. , Choong, Y. and Greene, K. (2021), What Futuristic Technology Means for First Responders: Voices from the Field, HCI International 2021 Conference Proceedings, Washington, DC, US, [online],, (Accessed May 28, 2024)


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Created July 3, 2021, Updated November 29, 2022