Mobile Situational Awareness Solutions - What First Responders Should Look For

Dec 31, 2019

The mobile situational awareness solutions market is in an early stage, with a limited number of small vendors jockeying for attention and market share.

What is a mobile situational awareness solution? These applications put near real-time information about critical field situations at the disposal of emergency first response teams via their mobile devices. This information typically includes a mapping of the area and its surroundings, location and status of personnel and other markers, alerts, relevant photos and videos, and up-to-the-minute guidance from central command.

These solutions were developed to address the challenges and risks of communicating exclusively by using land mobile radios (LMRs). With only LMRs, front-line responders can find it very difficult to understand what is going on around them – sometimes with very negative consequences. Challenges include:

  • Responders have difficulty hearing and understanding radio communications.
  • Instructions can fail to be acknowledged.
  • No real-time visuals or other data are available.
  • There is no/little interoperability with other public safety agencies.
  • The location of other responders is unclear.

Target markets for these solutions include both the public safety (police, paramedics, fire teams, etc.) and private sectors. Given the tendency of government agencies to be technology laggards, the private sector offers more immediate sales and implementation opportunities. High-potential use cases include:

  • Monitoring lone workers in remote environments
  • Day-to-day security needs in certain industries
  • Major event/venue security – including parades, festivals, sporting events, etc.

Here are some priorities to look for when evaluating various vendors and their offerings:

  • Ease of use: Complexity and cumbersome work flows risk alienating first responders and stopping solution deployment in its tracks.
  • Affordability: Especially in the cost-sensitive government sector, it is imperative that these solutions offer a high value for its price. Cloud-based solutions offer scalability and affordability with per-user per-month pricing.
  • Easy integration:  Seamless integration with infrastructure and critical systems is crucial to the success of any mobile situational awareness product.
  • Plans to incorporate new technologies: Leading providers are strategizing on how to best leverage valuable newer technologies – such as IoT sensors, smart watches, powerful 5G capabilities, live video streaming, facial recognition, etc. – in order to provide first responders with even higher-quality assistance.
  • Wireless carrier partners:  Wireless carriers are looking for innovative solutions that can drive wireless data and service usage, especially in the IoT and Smart City spaces. They’re signing on as resellers and are open to integration opportunities. They have high standards when it comes vetting and legitimizing mobile enterprise apps.
  • A focus on providing high levels of reliability, privacy and security: Providers with FirstNet and other leading certifications, along with Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) partnerships have a distinct advantage in neutralizing customer concerns in this area.
  • Willingness to pilot: Especially in a new product category such as this one, providers should be willing to offer a one-month pilot minimum.

Agencies and businesses that deploy first responders should be planning beyond LMRs and evaluating their mobile situational awareness solution options. The above topics will help prospective customers evaluate and screen potential mobile situational awareness providers.

You can learn more about mobile situational awareness solutions in the Frost & Sullivan study, “North American Mobile Situational Awareness Solutions Market, 2019” (9ABE-47, December 2019). This report is available at https://store.frost.com.


Jeanine Sterling

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