Every day, officials in cities, towns, and local communities around the world must be prepared for constant threats to citizens:
• They must develop plans to ensure people have access to food, water, shelter, and medical care in the wake of a natural disaster.
• They must safeguard critical infrastructure systems like roads, bridges, tunnels, and mass transit against man-made catastrophes and acts of terrorism.
• They must shut down organized crime rings that attack cyber networks and infiltrate city resources.
• They must maintain public order among massive crowds, whether they are gathered for sporting events, riots, protests, or celebrations.
Their task is simply enormous.
During our recent international tour of public safety and justice advisory councils, we heard from a diverse group of leaders all in need of modern, flexible, and cost-effective solutions to help them meet these critical and expanding demands. Technology is the tool that can provide these leaders with the collaboration and insight they need to make informed decisions that protect public safety while still maintaining the necessary operational austerity.
Many public safety organizations have already embraced the benefits that technology can bring to their daily operations. The Domain Awareness System, launched in partnership with the City of New York and the New York Police Department, serves as a real-time counterterrorism solution that proactively identifies potential threats and protects critical infrastructure while enabling a crucial common operational picture. Last year, the Delhi Police partnered with Microsoft to launch an interactive community platform that allows citizens to report crimes and get emergency services information, helping law enforcement to identify crime-prone areas and take swift and appropriate measures.
Collaboration tools in particular have demonstrated enormous value. Following the massive 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Microsoft worked with local and international agencies to implement a central collaboration portal that enabled all humanitarian organizations to exchange essential information. Outside of emergency relief efforts, the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention, which works to improve safety in the fields of road traffic, leisure, and sport, uses unified communications through the Microsoft Lync Server to connect its employees between its headquarters in Berne and nine regional offices more efficiently and reliably than ever before.
Of course, national security also remains a top priority for governments worldwide, and rightly so. But the measures taken to protect citizens’ daily lives – the security of which many of us often take for granted – are also critical to any country’s livelihood and wellbeing. Along with partners like Genetec, Iomniscient, Esri, Olton, and IDV Solutions, Microsoft is providing public safety organizations with technology solutions that support their vital mission. Because whether large or small, rural or urban, we know that safe cities, towns, and communities are the foundation of a healthy global society.