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Mobile analytics can help public safety optimize its FirstNet usage

by Urgent Communications contributor
Jan 04, 2018

Mobile analytics have emerged as a better way to access a true picture of how first responders, mobile devices and applications are using bandwidth, allowing agencies to make smarter mobile deployment decisions.

By John Knopf

The deadline for governors to make their FirstNet decisions has passed, and all states have made an “opt-in” choice. This marks an important first step in a long journey toward pervasive FirstNet interoperability. However, agencies need to prepare for bumpy roads ahead as they welcome in a new generation of mobile hardware, software and services.

Knitting together these new technologies and multiple networks will add complexity like they’ve never experienced before. Each agency needs to take a preemptive and proactive approach to analyzing the first-responder experience across its entire service area to get a tangible return on investment in the near term.

Most agencies today are sorely under-equipped to react to sudden, wide swings in mobile-data consumption. They also struggle to manage the demand that applications, devices, and users are putting on IT resources and support teams.

Organizations are beginning to realize that the cost of supporting mobile devices can far exceed the initial device-acquisition and data-plan costs, especially if they’re ill-prepared to support mobile infrastructure and users over the long haul. Thankfully, mobile analytics have emerged as a better way to access a true picture of how first responders, mobile devices and applications are using bandwidth, allowing agencies to make smarter mobile deployment decisions.

Mobile-analytics solutions can augment the management capacity and insight of an agency adopting FirstNet by providing detailed, real-time insight. Solutions start by marshalling each mobile device as an active, in-field sensor capable of gathering data and behavioral insights on networks, users, devices and applications—inside and outside the agency firewall.

As first responders head into the field to do their most critical work, mobile analytics lets agencies review and understand data from outside the firewall. This gives agencies visibility into networks that they don’t own, so they can better assess what is going on.  

By reviewing the data and visualizations, agencies can react quickly to urgent needs. Real-time observation with a mobile-analytics solution enables agencies to tune policies and workflows to optimize first-responder productivity, increasing their return on investment in the following ways:

  1. Visualize network, device, application, and diagnostic data to see how the mobile workforce is operating at a given moment and be able to quickly diagnose and resolve localized or systemic problems.
  2. Provide IT and user-self-service troubleshooting capabilities to diagnose root causes to problems and automatically fix them without IT involvement.
  3. Gather big data from mobile devices, applications, and user behaviors. Aggregate Big Data on mobile devices, applications, users, location, connectivity, throughput, and performance data across Wi-Fi, cellular and FirstNet networks.
  4. Reveal the root cause of poor network performance, such as data-heavy applications, poor performing devices, or congested networks.
  5. Monitor traffic patterns to make sure applications and devices are accessing networks securely and that the networks they’re connecting to are secure.

In the year ahead, public-safety organizations must balance the move toward FirstNet interoperability while making plans to manage and support the new shape of mobile infrastructure. An agency’s success largely depends on having visibility and analytics on the networks they rely on, and using this intelligence will ensure the best experience for first responders. 

John Knopf is vice president of products for NetMotion Software.


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