Big Data Is Transforming Public Safety

Note: This blog post was based on an article that appeared in The Call, the publication of the National Emergency Number Association. Click here to read the full article, titled “How Big Data Can Transform the PSAP.”


As the security industry has continually evolved over the last several decades, Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) technology has remained relatively unchanged. But today, we’re on the brink of a significant PSAP revolution, in which the day-to-day public safety working environment will dramatically evolve. The best part? The PSAP is about to become even more invaluable to any agency that provides emergency management or response.

What’s driving this big change? Mainly, NG9-1-1 transitioning PSAPs from analog to digital, which is bringing about some exciting new possibilities:

  • Expanded 9-1-1 call control, which is creating an exponential increase in relevant public safety data. The result is a more proactive PSAP.
  • The ability to handle multimedia, including texts, videos and pictures—offering citizens the opportunity to better communicate the details of an emergency, in real time.
  • The use of GPS coordinates, which allows 9-1-1 operators and first responders to have an immediate point of reference during an emergency call.
  • Increased use of telematics systems, such as OnStar.

The result of all this increased information from various sources flowing into PSAPs is the potential to gather actionable information to better protect people. The key will be making sense of this “big data” and putting it to work. Today’s software analytics can pick the relevant bits of information—in the form of videos, photos, records and more—out of huge amounts of data, without the arduous task of manual searching.

Consider the amount of valuable data in the average records management system: license plate numbers, crime scene photos, arrest records and more. With modern big data analytics capabilities, PSAPs, police departments and other entities can mine these data sources and gain much greater context when responding to and investigating crimes and other incidents. For example, an agency in Pennsylvania used speech analytics while investigating a string of arson activity. Officials were able to link a suspect to six additional incidents simply by searching previous 9-1-1 calls using the search terms “fire” and “porch.” With the help of that data, the man was successfully prosecuted.

In the near future, this type of forensic data will also be available to PSAP operators. This insight, in addition to data from sources such as medical alert databases, commercial video sources, and probation and parolee lists, will help create a proactive—rather than reactive—security environment. With data analytics technology, PSAPs can make sense out of enormous amounts of information, detect patterns and better serve the citizens whom they work to protect.

To learn more about Verint’s comprehensive solutions for public safety and security, please visit our website or watch this video.

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