Thirty years ago, personal computers were nonexistent in the fire service. Today, that scenario is very different as the use of computers is the norm as a result of lower costs, microprocessors, smaller sizes, grant funding and the Internet. According to Wikipedia, over a billion personal...
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Broadband networks are dramatically changing the way in which computers will impact public safety. Broadband networks that are in use today by public safety may be private public safety systems, municipal Wi-Fi systems, satellite and/or commercial. These networks provide access via computer to Voice over IP (VoIP), Radio over IP (RoIP), data systems, video, digital images, traffic cameras and many of the applications referenced in this document that require some type of wireless connectivity.
Ruggedized and handheld computers have and will continue to revolutionize the way that computers are integrating into field operations. Many of these devices have been developed to meet military specifications and many have been a result of a military technology transfer program to public safety. This militarized or ruggedized capability is imperative in order to function in the fire service environment. Ruggedized handheld or mini computers are also changing the landscape of the fire service. These smaller devices interface well with users in the field and they require less space, which means they can easily be carried and used.
Computers will continue to change the way that the fire service and public safety do business individually and collaboratively. Ultimately, computers will enable more robust and effective methods of communication across public safety disciplines and throughout all levels of government through the enhanced delivery of data. The deployment of a national public safety broadband network will create an entirely new and exciting paradigm in the way computers impact public safety.
CHARLES WERNER, a FirehouseÂ® contributing editor is a 34-year veteran of the fire-rescue service, currently serving as chief of the Charlottesville, VA, Fire Department. He chairs the Department of Homeland Security's SAFECOM Executive Committee and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Technology Council and is vice president of the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association (VFCA).