The importance of technological innovation for first responders

This content is sponsored by VMWare

When disaster strikes — whether it’s an earthquake, tornado or terrorist attack — law enforcement and disaster-relief departments rely on the ability to access shared information to understand crises and make lifesaving decisions.

Police officers, firefighters and paramedics use technology to communicate and visualize data, so the easier it is for them to access it under stress, the better.

“If you’re a police officer chasing down a criminal and you need to access information, you’re not going to want to stop to remember a complicated password, but the information is very sensitive and needs to be secured,” said Mike Wilkerson, a senior director at VMWare, a technology access and security company that has worked with the Department of Defense and other government agencies around the world.

Today, finding more secure ways to meet first responders’ needs from one manageable, cloud-based dashboard and on any device, especially smartphones, is a central goal of the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) and federal IT departments.

Derived-credentials mobile security and cloud computing are leading the charge to modernize and to streamline first-responder technology.

Having common access to crucial data

One reason federal IT agencies support cloud-based computing is that it enables first responders to access a variety of local and national databases, helping them compare information and take multiple actions at once with easy-to-use, integrated apps.

Cloud computing integrates data and communications into centralized banks that allow simultaneous access to authenticated individuals, providing the same critical information to police officers, paramedics and other first responders on the front lines.

Because of the demonstrated benefits of cloud-based systems, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget established a “cloud first” policy in conjunction with FISMA in 2014.

“AirWatch’s ability to tie into multiple APNs (private versions of VPNs) and per-app tunneling ensures front-line emergency workers can quickly, easily and securely access the local and national applications they need to do their job,” Wilkerson said.

Departments and teams across the federal spectrum have embraced the benefits offered by cloud-based software, and many agencies and departments state that “all major and mission-critical USADF information technology (IT) systems are now cloud-based and are delivered by cloud service providers approved through the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).”

Accessing information on smartphones in crisis situations

When first responders are comfortable with the technology they are using, they can communicate and make decisions more quickly.

More than ever, smartphones are replacing laptops and other devices as responders’ go-to way to look up crucial information.

With derived credentials stored on authorized and authenticated responders’ smartphones, first responders are freed from having to remember complicated passwords but they are still able to safely access the vital data they need.

“AirWatch creates a secure, reliable, scalable and efficient solution to centrally manage and secure the smartphones that will replace traditional push-to-talk radios for all front-line emergency services workers,” according to VMWare.

These innovations provide reliable, secure and on-demand access to data on mobile devices from anywhere in the field.

Partnering and customizing for first-responder needs

Software suites like VMWare’s AirWatch provide secure ways for various first responders to compare data in the cloud and put pieces of the puzzle together quickly in a crisis scenario, from their own smartphones.

VMWare provides many first-responder departments with the solutions, answers to specific questions and administrator training that first responders need to leverage these cutting-edge technologies to keep communities safe.

Take a look at the complete list of VMWare’s solutions that help community leaders and first responders optimize their important work.

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