Historically, technology has been known to advance at rates that keep pace with the needs of consumers and businesses at the same time. If you look deeply at the last twenty years, the explosion of growth in internet access and mobile technology has totally changed how things used to get done. Back in the 80’s, I remember having a console television, three television channels, and no access to cable. As the needs of the consumer expanded, cable companies began moving into remote areas and in the mid 90’s, our area finally had access to all of the, hmmm, wonderful? programming that was available in the more urban settings. This is how things used to evolve. What drives the daily expansion of technology today?
In the 9-1-1 Industry, any time during the 1990’s was a time of innovation. The need to receive location data from the caller was important and before long, it became the norm. Next came cell phone technology and the need to track locations via the handset to provide services that meet the expectations of the user. Today, the technology is advancing so rapidly, most in the industry can’t keep track. The 9-1-1 industry is no longer setting the standard, it’s along for the ride. CAD companies, telephony developers, and mapping software designers are building the next generation of tech that will drive the future, at least for the time being. Included in this rapid advancement is the expectation of text to 9-1-1, but what else is creeping. Systems are being designed to receive video calls, image transfers, and who knows, direct emergency contact from social media may not be far behind.
I don’t oppose any advancements, but I do question who is deciding to set the expectations? Are we at a point where we need video to 9-1-1? Can we effectively train personnel to answer social media contact? Where will the industry draw a line and say we are effective and all expectations cannot be met, no matter how far the tech moves forward, mainly due to the involvement of human operators?
It’s time for the industry to take a breath, develop a strategic plan for the future, and go back to guiding the technology companies, not letting them guide us.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog and any opinions, observations, or ideas are mine and not associated in any way with my employer, The Reedy Creek Improvement District.