The Evolution of ICT in the Public Safety domain: Challenges and Opportunities

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The services provided by public safety organizations bring value to society by creating a stable and secure environment. These services include protection to people and assets and they address a large number of threats both natural and man-made, including acts of terrorism, technological, radiological or environmental accidents. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have always played an important role in the public safety domain. The capability of exchanging information (e.g., voice or data) is essential to improve the coordination of public safety officers during an emergency crisis. Wireless communications are particularly important in field operations to support the mobility of first responders. Operational and business requirements in the public safety domain are significantly different from the commercial domain. Innovative ICT concepts and technologies may not be directly applicable to the public safety domain or they need to be customized to validate specific requirements of Public Safety organizations (e.g., security). This paper will identify the most significant challenges in the Public Safey domain, the main technical enablers and the opportunities provided by new ICT technologies. In particular, this paper focuses on the lack of interoperability and broadband connectivity for public safety organizations. The potential evolution paths for ICT in the public safety domain will also be described