There is no denying that COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way we live, work, and communicate. As businesses were forced into lockdown, the pandemic caused a massive surge in remote-enabled unified communications. Fortunately, to maintain some sense of business survivability, workers at nearly every level were forced into daily video communications sessions.
While this trend had emerged slightly in previous years, primarily in a customer support model, the evolution of personal communications and the availability of high-powered, camera-enabled mobile devices flourished. The pandemic triggered a shift in private communications that gradually added pictures, then animations, video snippets, and finally full-motion live streaming video.
Apples FaceTime application became incredibly popular, even to the point where people were getting “but dialed” on face time, something that my family calls getting “face butted” 🙂
As with any other trend, once it reaches public adoption and becomes the norm for day-to-day communications, many developers naturally migrate their thoughts over to emergency services and how these types of applications can assist in life-saving initiatives. In many cases, applications were designed and built with good intentions. Still, developers typically lack the proper use cases to build applications that follow standard operating practices and solve public safety-specific problems. From security concerns to being insensitive to PII, right on down to potentially sending citizens towards danger, albeit unintentionally.
I believe we are well past the first stage. Citizens have adopted and accepted the adoption of real-time video communications between friends and peers. Emergency communications have made great strides in advancing technologies available, and now intelligent devices are contributing intelligent information to innovative agencies enabling a more imaginative response.
I also believe that we are well into the second phase, where developers have been chastised enough by the public safety industry for seemingly good ideas. Still, in reality, misbehaving applications, and most importantly, many have revised their applications to comply with the overall mission and acceptable by public safety. We’re now ready to enter phase 3, which is the open adoption and realignment of general safety procedures and policies to accommodate new technologies and embrace them. This phase is critical as it indicates a paradigm shift in thinking on both sides of the fence.
Have we reached this stage of “the minority report”? It is probably not, but it is likely something that needs to be monitored. We don’t fall into a trap and over-rotate into a society of implicit government control and monitoring. Not all technology is wrong, but any technology can be harmful if it’s misused and abused. So, while you won’t see me wrapping tinfoil around my head and living in semi-darkness with the shades all drawn, I will keep a diligent eye for blatant abuse and the potential for victimization. But, at the same time, I plan to stay in touch and current with technology trends to make my life not only better but safer.
STAY WELL AND BE SAFE . . .