West Corporation

Posted on October 26, 2012 by West Corporation 



Public Safety, Step into your Exoskeleton!

Applications, computer and storage cloud services, mobile phones, tablet computers and big data are reshaping the entire consumer economy. Quickly following are business and enterprises around the world. But how will these technologies transform public safety?

Over 50% of all Americans have smart mobile phones. So in any emergency situation, every citizen is armed with eyes, ears and location information to deliver a more complete data picture of what is happening on the ground. Rather than thinking of how we don’t want 24 people to report the same traffic accident, why don’t we see it as 24 more sources of data providing even more timely information from a variety of perspectives? Rather than a 9-1-1 operator with a queue of calls building, can’t all of the location, video and audio information be routed to a public safety computer and storage cloud service?

There is not only more mobile information available, but an increasing amount of fixed data – weather data, building data, and traffic data. Today, WeatherTap provides up to 2MB of radar data every 15 minutes as well as 4MB of satellite information, 2MB of infrared and water vapor data, 1MB of lightning information and 2MB of modeling data for a 10-100 square mile area. That’s  ~10MB every 15 minutes!  In a modern metro area there is also information coming from every traffic intersection. According to Amine Haoui, CEO of Sensys Networks, a city the size of Tucson produces 4GB of intersection information in an hour. Consider also the information coming from modern smart buildings. Again, a city the size of Tucson might have 250 smart buildings. In an emergency you’d be looking at close to 2Gbytes of data per hour.

Now think about a 24-hour crisis and you’re looking at over 100TB of data. Imagine that data stream being fed to a next generation computer and storage cloud service, which ramps up to 10,000 servers to run applications. That stream could predict what direction the fire is moving for the individual firefighter on the ground. It could also inform occupants which side of the building to use for evacuation, and even indicate which side on which floor.  Huge amounts of data could be personalized for city police, state police, EMT, fire, and HAZMAT personnel. This is all technically feasible today.

Some of you may remember the first Aliens movie. At the end of the movie, Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) straps herself into a mechanical exoskeleton, which makes her powerful enough to defeat the mother alien. Well, the next generation public safety systems will provide an information exoskeleton for professional fire, police, emergency medical workers and citizen. This will all ultimately transform the E9-1-1 operator from a call center operator who is doing speech to text translation and hoping they have enough time to get to the next call, to an air traffic controller, or battlefield commander, armed with an information exoskeleton coordinating both professionals, citizens and equipment to guarantee the public’s safety quickly, efficiently and effectively.

Ripley would be impressed.

By Timothy C.K. Chou, Author of “Cloud: Seven Clear Business Models” & Lecturer – Stanford University

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