As police departments and other public safety organizations shift their communications infrastructure to wireless broadband and cloud-based apps, smartwatches are set to have a massive impact on the everyday lives of first responders.

Just a few years ago, computer aided dispatch (CAD) access was limited to laptops, bolted into police vehicles. Today, many of the leading CAD solutions can be accessed via smartphone apps, ensuring that first responders stay informed and aware after leaving their vehicle upon arriving at the scene of an incident. CAD on smartwatches takes this a step further, delivering instant access to dispatch alerts in a manner that lets the officer remain heads up and hands free.

Mobile CAD Apps Take Police Communications to the Next Level

Mobile CAD provides a significant boost to situational awareness for police and other first responders in the field. CAD apps on smartphones enable not just the delivery of critical alerts and calls for service, but also the transmission of rich data, such as photos and video, that until now have not been available to first responders.

Enhancing Public Safety Communications

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Smartwatches take many of the core capabilities of smartphones and deliver them in a wearable form factor. While early smartwatches may have been merely consumer fitness accessories, today’s generation of these devices are sophisticated, durable wrist-worn computers. They deliver all-day battery life; pack advanced sensors including GPS, heart rate, accelerometer and gyroscope; and in some cases, support both Bluetooth tethering and standalone LTE connectivity.

First Responders Already Have Their Hands Full

Wrist-worn CAD technology is a natural fit for first responders who, literally, already have their hands and belts full with equipment. When an alert comes in from dispatch, a smartwatch enables the police officer to view the message instantly and acknowledge it with a simple tap or gesture. As a result, the officer’s hands remain free and they can continue to maintain eye contact with the suspect or monitor the ongoing incident.

In addition, smartwatches are able to transmit GPS location data for all personnel in real time, so if a traffic stop turns into a chase, the officer’s location can be immediately shared with dispatch to deploy additional resources as necessary.

Automatic vehicle location is helpful to locate a vehicle, but what about when a first responder is separated from the vehicle? Smartwatches address this.

Key Capabilities for CAD on Smartwatches

As more CAD systems roll out smartwatch apps, and functionality becomes increasingly advanced, field personnel will be able to leverage smartwatches to:

  • Receive alerts, including BOLOs, and for stolen vehicles, abductions, car accidents, injuries, etc.
  • Notify other resources and dispatch of key details and send requests for assistance with a single button press
  • Transmit real-time, GPS-enabled location information, triggering alerts to dispatch when the smartwatch detects sudden acceleration
  • Provide notification of officer down situations, including tracking real-time heart rate changes
  • Maintain situational awareness throughout incidents

Making Wrist-Worn Police Communications a Reality

Samsung has been a leader in driving CAD app development for wrist-worn wearables. Currently, Northrop Grumman, Caliber, Tyler Technologies, Central Square Technologies and RapidDeploy all offer commercially available off-the-shelf CAD applications for Samsung smartwatches.

Smartphone adoption is rising in public safety as agencies see the immense benefits of mobile and cloud apps. Smartwatches will carry situational awareness further into the field to support rapid incident response, whether in connection with a large traffic accident, managing wildland fire suppression or inside a commercial high rise.

Today and in the future, smartwatches will help with critical decision making, including the need of backup or additional resources, which could be the difference between life and death for first responders. Now that this innovative technology and the supporting wireless broadband infrastructure is available, we owe it to our first responders to not just put it in their hands, but on their wrists, too.

Visit Samsung’s Mobile First Responder page to learn more about empowering officers in the field and improving situational awareness. For an in-depth analysis of the potential of wearables for first responders, download the Public Safety Network white paper, “Enhancing Response Capabilities with the Use of Smartwatches in Public Safety.”

TJ Kennedy

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TJ Kennedy

TJ Kennedy is a co-founder and principal at the Public Safety Network, and has spent over 25 years in wireless technology and public safety. Prior to the Public Safety Network, TJ was the president of the First Responder Network Authority, known as FirstNet, an independent government authority charged with creating the first ever financially self-sustaining broadband nationwide network for public safety. TJ received his BS from the University of Utah and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University.

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