It has been 20 years since the September 11 attacks—and it has me thinking a lot about first responders and how many things have stayed the same and how many things have changed in the past 20 years. Here is one big thing that has changed: technology.

When it comes to saving people’s lives, every second matters, and using technology can enable first responders to make data-driven decisions. Predictions show this market is expected to grow.

For example, ResearchandMarkets suggests first responder C3I (command, control, communications, and intelligence) equipment spending through 2025 will be driven by things like major international sporting events, border and area security, and disaster and emergency management. The COVID-19 pandemic has also prompted investment in first-response solutions, particularly those in the medical realm.

Meanwhile, Grand View Research predicts first response will be one of the markets that leverages AI (artificial intelligence) technologies more readily—and for good reason. We need to get the right data into the hands of the people who are saving lives.

While we can put technology into the hands of first responders, these individuals also need to learn how technology is evolving in the world around them in order to protect people. Let’s take a look at one example: our automated vehicles.

The GHSA (Governors Highway Safety Assn.) released a new report—Law Enforcement, First Responder, and Crash Investigation Preparation for Automated Vehicle Technology—that examines how law enforcement officials and other first responders as well as crash scene investigators can better prepare for automated vehicle technology.

The report examines the basics of how first responders interact with the vehicles including how they disable, move, or stabilize one of these vehicles; how they might safely cut through one of these vehicles; or how they might determine ownership of one of these vehicles.

Researchers used this information to design a curriculum development strategy for training law enforcement and other first responders and crash investigators tasked with responding to these motor vehicle crashes and incidents.

This report has me thinking bigger about how we might tie all this together and how these first responders could leverage data and automation that already exists in the world around them. If we are more readily building smart cities, smart infrastructure, and automated vehicles, could this data we are producing provide value for first responders? I would venture the answer is a resounding yes. Now it is a matter of creating the integration between all the systems to make it happen—which we all know is easier said than done.

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