The Power of Information

Nov 25, 2016

Closing the Public Safety and Security Technology Gap

As the complexity and reach of global threats continues to increase, the demands on public safety and first responders are also growing.
Recent reports – including studies by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and public safety organizations around the world – have confirmed that first responders want timelier mission-critical information to decrease response times and detect and mitigate threats before they happen. Interestingly, this is similar to what militaries around the world need for the battlefield.

General Dynamics Mission Systems – Canada, a company with extensive experience supporting armed forces globally, is addressing the technology gap that exists between what most first responders have, in terms of information at their fingertips, and what the public takes for granted in a world of smart devices, time saving apps, and high-speed broadband networks.

As military threats grew in complexity, industry adapted by engineering modern communications and information systems to empower the soldier with critical information for the battlefield. For six decades, General Dynamics has been building rugged, dependable military communication systems. These systems are securely integrated into dedicated platforms that are protected from interference and cyber-attacks.

“We are building on our extensive experience in military communications and developing a new series of capabilities to help close the technology gap for the first responders who are facing increasingly complex threats,” said David Ibbetson, Vice President and General Manager of General Dynamics Mission Systems-International. “The SHIELD Ecosystem and the solutions we have developed will support public safety and security organizations around the world by giving them the advanced tools they need to become more connected and coordinated response forces.”

SHIELD Ecosystem Delivering the Power of Information
The SHIELD Ecosystem is designed to provide crucial, user-friendly information that can be distributed simultaneously to first responders in the field and across multiple agencies.

The systems, networks and applications at the core of the SHIELD Ecosystem are robust, secure, dedicated and rapidly deployable. This ensures critical communications are maintained in the most difficult of circumstances and most challenging of environments, just as they are on the battlefield.

The SHIELD Ecosystem optimizes the operational effectiveness of first response and public safety personnel in the field with four turn-key, fully integrated solutions:

  • CitySHIELD for the demanding needs of public safety and security personnel;
  • BorderSHIELD for border protection and security personnel;
  • InfrastructureSHIELD for ports, airports and other vital installations; and
  • EmergencySHIELD a deployable communications and operations capability for emergency and security response.

SHIELD Solutions – Addressing what First Responders Need
We live in a digital age where a cell phone video is created and shared worldwide in mere seconds, where cars can be ordered and tracked on a digital map to arrive in minutes, yet those who are responsible to keep us safe, or rescue us from a disaster, lack secure and dedicated versions of these readily available capabilities.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission estimates that more than 70% of the 240 million annual 911 calls come from cellphones, and 60% of those callers could not be accurately located.

Recent world events illustrate how a lack of information at the scene, or unreliable commercial networks in the area can cause confusion. The initial reports from the 2014 attack in and around Canada’s Parliament Hill suggested multiple shooters, when there was one. The lone gunman who attacked bystanders in front of a Munich restaurant in July 2016 was reported as several attackers in multiple locations sending police in many directions. Firefighters and police battling an aggressive forest fire in Northern Alberta in May of this year had limited communications when the commercial cellular network was badly damaged making it difficult to track the fire, establish safe escape routes and locate their fellow responders. Earlier in March, Belgian police were forced to use social media to coordinate their response to a terrorist attack in Brussels when their radio network was overloaded. Eventually the commercial network also crashed as thousands sent texts and posted videos.

How would the SHIELD help police and other responders?
SHIELD solutions can protect a city, a border, critical infrastructure, or be deployed in an emergency. Each solution is connected to a dedicated and secure wireless broadband network that is integrated with public safety and security dispatch systems and sensors. Traditional radios used by police, firefighters and paramedics are replaced with digital communication devices. These secure smart phones are connected to the dedicated SHIELD network and loaded with specific safety and security applications that enhance response operations significantly. This reliable, multipurpose communication system gives first responders the ability to send and receive critical digital information that will better prepare and protect them from today’s complex threats and challenges.

With the SHIELD, dismounted responders and dispatchers from separate agencies can see each other on digital maps in the same way the public sees the car they ordered coming to pick them up. Intelligence and data, including the location of gun shots, can be passed in real-time to police to avoid chasing inaccurate reports. Surveillance video, as well as license plate and facial recognition information, can be sent simultaneously to multiple responders to pick out a suspect in a large crowd in a similar way that social media can recognize friends in a party photo. The same satellite weather imagery and forecast data that are accessible on personal phones can be passed to authorized hand-held devices on a deployed wireless private network that would tell fire fighters which way the forest fire was likely to go and where the safe routes for evacuation are.

“Just as more items are being connected through the Internet of Things, the SHIELD Ecosystem links emergency responders and their expanding data sources, such as body cameras, medical and criminal data displays and social media monitoring platforms. This will enable them to share real-time data and process the information for instantaneous viewing and improved situational awareness in the field,” notes Chris Pogue, Vice President Public Safety and Security Solutions for General Dynamics Mission Systems–International.

Closing the Public Safety and Security Technology Gap
When citizens call for police, fire, or ambulance assistance they want the dispatcher to be able to locate them and relay their location and important details to the units responding to the call. Agents protecting borders need to access citizen and police databases to properly screen arrivals. Security forces guarding a critical facility need to have access controls and surveillance systems digitally fused into one comprehensive operating picture. And if a natural disaster occurs, citizens expect emergency crews to bring the right relief to the right location, even in the most remote areas.

“Getting the right information to the right place at the right time in an easily recognizable format on a dedicated secure network enhances the effectiveness of multi-disciplinary decision making and will protect and save lives,” adds Pogue. This is the power of information, the power of the SHIELD.

A FrontLine staff article