As of late, law enforcement agencies around the country have been under much scrutiny, and to a certain extent, rightly so. Abuse of power is a hot topic and to many, arming police officers and first responders with advanced technology that widens their scope of influence and said power is, well, unsettling. What’s missing from this conversation, however, is the bigger picture — the role of public safety officials is first and foremost to protect the public. So, while some deem new technology and emergency training initiatives unnecessary and even boycott-worthy, these programs should, in fact, be embraced and applauded. From improving search and rescue efforts to combatting crime, new advancements in technology need not be seen as threats, but aides in ensuring the brave men and women in the public safety sector can effectively carry out their duties. At the end of the day, don’t we all want those charged to protect us to have the best equipment to do so?
Take the ever-controversial Urban Shield. Now in its 12th year, Urban Shield presents the perfect opportunity for exhibiting the ways in which technology can be used to save lives on a mass-scale. Bringing together representatives from local and international transportation authorities, law enforcement agencies, and public safety departments, it provides a forum to showcase a wide array of defensive gear and weaponry.
Among these technologies showcased that are reshaping responders’ operations are advanced cameras, biosensors, augmented reality-enabled monitoring equipment, robotic detonation devices and surveillance drone technology — tools that mitigate threats in moments of maximum danger. Moreover, given the risks inherent in their work, the safety of law enforcement officers and first responders is a paramount concern. In addition to the tech that is being used in the actual moment of disaster, after-the-fact reviews of video feed from gizmos such as body cameras give respondents the chance to learn from their own actions and optimize planning for any future incident. Were it not for the opportunity provided by exhibitions like Urban Shield, this level of collaboration with technology innovators would be nearly unthinkable.
Indeed, the seamless integration of technologies on every level is being harnessed to better facilitate the responses of emergency workers. From radio and radiation detection equipment, to cameras and communications systems, many of these changes are well underway, bringing substantial benefits for law enforcement officers, first responders, and the public they keep safe.
While law enforcement hasn’t been typically regarded as a technologically forward profession, police officers have long been equipped with new and innovative technologies designed to help them maximize efficiency in the field. Police were early adopters of radios, now seen largely as archaic. Speed radars and automatic tagging of license plates, while certainly not the sexiest tech, have been used in traffic control for years. Today, the burgeoning tech scene has presented no shortage of products for police, from body cameras to analytics to virtual reality training. Through programs such as Urban Shield, we can continue to advance capabilities, finding new ways to maximize resources at hand and make our societies safer for everyone.