TiPs is not about technology bits, bytes, speeds, and feeds. TiPS is about how technology can help you achieve your strategic goals, tactical objectives, and operational tasks.
Because data and information drive emergency response, technology is an indispensable tool for fire departments, police departments, emergency operations centers, and every other government agency in every jurisdiction. TiPS will review, analyze, and discuss the most effective, innovative, and creative technology solutions used in public safety today. TiPS will educate, inform, and maybe even entertain you a little.
Your blog author is Bob Pessemier; a former Lieutenant with the Kent, WA fire department, author of Up In Smoke-A Business Guide to Fire & Life Safety (that was nominated for a national award by the American Risk & Insurance Association), a former Washington State Fire Training Academy instructor, and recipient of the Kent Fire Department Meritorious Service Award for demonstrating courage and bravery beyond the call of duty.
Bob has worked for a number of technology companies over the past twenty years and was most recently a Public Sector Partner Account Manager for Microsoft where he worked with software companies that offer solutions to military, public safety, and other government clients.
Bob is the CEO and Editor-In-Chief of the Public Safety Technology Review - an online resource for public safety agencies to find, evaluate, and compare software and technology services. The PSTech Review also offers software selection consulting services for public safety agencies and sales and marketing consulting to public safety software companies.
Please contact Bob with questions, comments, or suggestions for topics or issues you would like to see covered.
Ph: (425) 654-1066
It’s been said that we learn by doing. We also learn by sharing. I’d like to invite you to share your stories of success or failure about how technology is put to useful service in public safety. Send an email or give me a call. I look forward to hearing from you.
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Have you ever read the sales or marketing information from a technology company and thought to yourself “what the heck does that mean?” You are not alone. The language of technology has become vague, cluttered, and meaningless.
It seems every company delivers “a superior collaboration and rich media user experience with best in class ROI in a fully integrated, open and validated desktop virtualization solution” or something similar. I did not make that one up. I have been in technology for a long time and still struggle to figure out what this stuff means. They all deliver lots of stuff, but what is that stuff? Here are more examples:
One company web site says it has “a highly integrated, scalable solution set for government agencies supporting crisis and disaster management, homeland/internal security, law enforcement and criminal justice.” Don’t they all?
This one has “an extensive portfolio of local government technology that can help agencies move beyond the basics to technology that's second nature, seamlessly delivering real-time information into the hands of first responders and workers.” That “portfolio of government technology” stuff sounds good, and all natural too. Can we get that with some sprouts?
You could probably take any sales and marketing information from one company and swap it out for any other and nobody would notice.
The trouble is that too much technology language is chosen from too far up the ladder of abstraction. The “Ladder of Abstraction” is a language model developed by S. I. Hayakawa. His book, Language in Thought and Action, was first published in 1939 and should be required reading for every technology company sales and marketing department.
At the top of the ladder are the words with higher meaning, more abstract and conceptual words, words like security, safety, and freedom. At the bottom of the ladder are concrete words like police officer, house fire, and heart attack. The top of the ladder is intellectual, the bottom is tactile, and technology companies are stuck in the middle. The middle is where the language loses meaning and clarity.
In the middle of the ladder you endeavor to evaluate alternative technical applications to institute increased financial and operational effectiveness and avoid negative improvements. At the bottom of the ladder you look for a way to do a better job for less money. To make sure you get clear and concise information, I recommend two tracks:
- Make sure you define your needs and problems in clear, concise, and concrete language.
- Drive the technology companies down the ladder of abstraction.
Here are some suggestions on how to bring a technology vendor down the ladder:
- Ask them to explain how their solution will improve your operations or solve your problem.
- Ask them for examples of what their solution has done for other agencies like yours.
- Ask to talk to those agencies. Talk to someone who uses the application and talk to someone higher up the chain of command ladder as well. What the company says about results and what a user says may differ, and what a user says may differ from what a department manager says.
- Ask for case studies. Even though these represent the best cases, they can give you an idea of company capabilities and results others have seen.
- Ask them to describe what an implementation might look like for you. Get concrete timelines and details. This should help you find technical and operational issues (like any customization that might be needed or training issues).
I hope this helps.
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