Using IT to Help First Responders Save Lives
Imagine sitting in rush hour traffic on Friday afternoon and you see an ambulance approaching in your rear-view mirror with it’s lights flashing. Surely you assume there must be an accident ahead, but what if it were a relative on their way to the hospital?
The question you ask yourself is, “how is there not a better way?” With all of the emerging technology these days, there certainly has to be something to help those who need it most.
Low and behold smart cities. Smart cities are the trend of the future, and the technologies that empower them are likely to become a $135 billion market by 2021.
For first responders, the likelihood of smart traffic lights is a pleasant change. By operating with GPS technology in emergency response vehicles, smart traffic lights can help first responders avoid traffic jams and significantly reduce response times.
Even better is the sensors that can check the structural integrity of buildings, bridges, and roads can increase safety by identifying problems before they cause an accident. Such preventative maintenance can help cities avoid the costs associated with minor injuries to major and fatal accidents.
What could go wrong?
Strategically placed sensors have the potential to improve safety in a multitude of ways. However, city officials are justly concerned that the massive amounts of data collected might not be useful as well as overburdening current systems to their limit.
There are two main obstacles standing between city officials and smart city adoption. The first problem is the issue of integrating new technologies within existing systems, and the second problem is figuring out how to ensure the implemented sensors collect beneficial data.
The Apple Watch is terrific example of how technology can be both helpful and harmful. The ability of the Apple Watch to distinguish between a “fall” and a “drop” could be more than the health-care system bargained for. One could say that the technology has the potential to save lives, especially the elderly.
On the other hand, in the chance of a malfunction, the sensors could create an excessive number of 911 calls when they aren’t actually needed. With possibly millions of the devices in a densely populated city, it’s easy to see how the issue could escalate consume emergency call centers with false alarms.
In spite of the complexities with integration, the cities that do transition to smart cities stand to benefit greatly. A network of connected sensors and devices can reduce the severity of accidents or eliminate them entirely. For instance, Tesla has installed sensors that intelligently avoid impacting other cars.
Recently the city of Corona, CA migrated to a smart city. They’ve implemented sensors can also provide an incredibly rich picture of what’s happening. Many of the most revolutionary technologies have yet to be invented, but the data gathered by these tools is already helping city officials use their resources more effectively.
For example, officers can distribute Amber Alert information to an entire population, and apps like Waze show transportation officials valuable traffic data so they can reduce bottlenecks. A smart watch might be able to give paramedics vitals of their patients before they even arrive on the scene. No matter the city, smart tech has the potential to improve safety, efficiency and quality of life for residents.