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5 Key Takeaways from APCO

Last week, the RapidDeploy team joined thousands of public safety communications officials at the APCO 2023 conference in Nashville, TN. This four-day event covered public safety education, facilitated networking, new connections, and promoted learning about new innovations in 911.

During APCO, we sat down with clients and partners to learn about their experiences and gain insight into the topics and themes that they were most excited about.

Check out our key takeaways from APCO and watch the video to hear from Madison County 911 (KY), Collier County Sheriff’s Office (FL), and what3words:

Key Takeaway #1: Next Generation 911 is here: Together we need to embrace a transformative approach to emergency communication

During the keynote presentation, Mel Maier, Executive Director, APCO International, and Jeff Cohen Chief Counsel, and Director of Government Relations, APCO International, shared APCO’s vision for NG911 to be a transformative approach to emergency communication. This session highlighted critical factors impacting the future of NG911, including:  

  • An interoperable, secure, IP-based system
  • Universally accepted standards  
  • Effective routing of calls to ECCs  
  • Integration of crucial information
  • Data sharing support

To support and drive education around this vision, APCO shared a comprehensive Definitive Guide to NG9-1-1. This tech-forward approach is like a superhero cape for emergency response – it's all about saving lives, which closely aligns with the mission of RapidDeploy.

Key Takeaway #2: There is 911 staffing crisis –without people to answer the calls, technology is wasted

APCO did a great job highlighting innovative approaches to solving staffing challenges. RapidDeploy's Steven Raucher and Todd Komanetsky, joined Jacob Saur, ECC Administrator Arlington County Department of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management, to present "Getting Creative with ECC Staffing and Working from Home."  

Cloud-based solutions, including products from RapidDeploy, have emerged as a beacon of hope, enabling ECCs to streamline operations, support remote working locations and further improve the overall experience of telecommunicators.  

Jacob shared how Alexandria’s 911 center has addressed remote call taking as a strategy for employee retention. Over the years, increasing workloads and the introduction of new tools have extended training times, with almost three years required for training at their center. Arlington ECC implemented 12 remote call-taking stations in dispatch and two in remote fire dispatch.  

Key highlights of their approach include:

  1. Scalability: In the event of a mass incident, additional call-takers can be easily added remotely, reducing travel time and ensuring a safer response.
  1. Post-Pandemic Utilization: Following the pandemic, remote call-taking stations were repurposed for overtime shifts while employees returned to the center for regular shifts.
  1. Enhanced Technology: Upgrades to equipment will enable employees to work regular shifts from home, utilizing tools like Amazon Connect and Microsoft Teams for collaboration.
  1. Transcription and Analysis: Arlington is testing AWS transcription services to analyze non-emergency calls and gain valuable insights.
  1. Shared Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): ECC Arlington is willing to share SOPs to facilitate the implementation of remote call-taking solutions in other PSAPs.

Key Takeaway #3: Money and power: We still need it and there are ongoing efforts to get it

APCO’s conference featured crucial discussions on funding, resources, regulatory updates, and legislative initiatives impacting ECCs.

  • The Public Safety Next Generation 911 Coalition, in collaboration with APCO, continues to advocate for the proposed $15 billion grant program to facilitate NG911 implementation.  
  • The 911 SAVES Act's deals with the ongoing classification discussions of public safety telecommunicators currently being recognized as clerical and administrative.

Resources, open minds, improved workflows, and operational change are essential for ECCs to deploy new technologies seamlessly.

Key Takeaway #4: Resources and partnerships: With collaboration, we can do great things

One concept emerged quickly during this conference. . . No one can complete this transformation to NG911 alone.  

Of course, it takes time and money, but it also requires people to build relationships and work together. In the session about FirstNet Integration and Resources: Enhancing Emergency Response, we learned there is potential synergy between NG911 and FirstNet, focusing on the integration of network solutions to improve emergency response. The 911 community will need to break out of silos and form partnerships like never before.  

At RapidDeploy, we are focused on collaboration and bringing different parts of public safety together to create the most impactful next generation 911 ecosystem.  

We just launched Lightning, a new mobile app for first responders that will help to break down agency siloes, interoperability, and the continued need for shared access to critical data.

Key Takeaway #5: AI is not scary: It makes life easier

Artificial intelligence often gets a bad rap in the media and among the public. However, the APCO exhibit hall was flooded with AI technology to support the jobs of telecommunicators and drive more effective and efficient emergency response.  

There were solutions for non-emergency call handling, transcription services, and AI-language translation. There is potential for automation of repetitive tasks that will free up our telecommunicators to prioritize and spend time on the things that are most important when it comes to saving lives.  

If you were unable to attend APCO and interested in learning more about the innovation in NG911, we are happy to connect. RapidDeploy is proud to be part of the industry’s transition to NG911 and we look forward to collaborating with customers and partners to improve the future of emergency response.
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