The critical drive for technological innovation in emergency services

SOTI Inc. Australia

By Michael Dyson
Wednesday, 08 May, 2024

The critical drive for technological innovation in emergency services

In Australia’s vast and challenging landscape, where bushfires, floods and other natural disasters frequently disrupt lives, the pivotal role of technology in emergency services cannot be overstated. Our latest report at SOTI, ‘Digitising the Frontline: Transformative Technologies in Critical Care’, reveals that 97% of first responders encounter issues with their mobile devices, highlighting a critical need for technological transformation in the sector. The increasing frequency of these natural disasters heightens the urgency for technological advancement to match the escalating challenges in disaster management.

First responders should never have to question the reliability of their mobile devices or apps during an emergency. The public trusts these professionals to act swiftly and effectively, and rightfully, they should expect the same level of dependability from the technologies they use. However, 43% of emergency service workers said that the issues they experience with devices cause increased stress levels for them and their teams.

Our research also revealed that 75% of Australian emergency service workers have reported occasions where the care they provided was reduced or delayed due to mobile technology failures. A staggering 70% of emergency personnel report that these delays can take up to 30 minutes to resolve, significantly impacting situations where swift decision-making is crucial. Mobile device issues were also attributed to 45% of the delays in accessing digital records and 27% in receiving crucial location details. These are not just statistics — they represent real moments when the efficacy of emergency response is critically undermined.

While first responders continue to encounter technology issues, many still rely on outdated methods. Our findings reveal that 52% of frontline workers still rely on pen-and-paper systems, highlighting a significant area for modernisation in emergency services. The consequences of such reliance were tragically highlighted earlier this year when emergency services struggled to locate a woman in a wheelchair inside a burning home due to firefighters using a printed map that led them to the incorrect address1.

This incident is one of many that highlight the evident and urgent need for a comprehensive enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution. Implementing EMM would not only enhance operational efficiencies but also dramatically improve the capabilities of our emergency services. We are at a critical juncture where ensuring our personnel have immediate access to essential real-time data and effective communication tools is essential for improving disaster response outcomes.

There is a significant opportunity for Australia to modernise its approach to emergency services. Integrating advanced navigational tools and streamlining device management will drastically improve operational effectiveness and response times. Transitioning from manual, paper-based systems to sophisticated, digital solutions is crucial to enhance our capabilities in critical moments where every second can save lives.

SOTI’s report is a call to action for all stakeholders involved in Australian emergency services. By addressing these technological gaps, we not only strengthen the resilience of our emergency response — we also ensure teams are equipped, supported and prepared to face the challenges of our unique and often harsh environment.

Michael Dyson serves as VP of Sales, APAC at SOTI, where he supports the wider team to drive the company’s growth and revenue across the region. He has a career spanning over 35 years in sales, business development and executive management, having worked in the technology integrator and reseller community to develop and implement mobility solutions for business-critical applications across the retail, healthcare, transportation and logistics, manufacturing, emergency services, utility and field service sectors. Prior to joining SOTI, Michael held key roles at Advanced Mobile IT, Panasonic Toughbook, Sensor Dynamics and Multimedia Technology.


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