Doing more with less is still the prevailing theme with local government public safety officials according to a recent survey conducted by Public Technology Institute (PTI). This survey included responses from public safety and IT officials on behalf of jurisdictions, large, medium and small across the country representing over 54 million people.

The short survey asked the officials to rank 16 public safety technology topics according to their internal priorities. Fifty-six percent (56%) of the respondents listed “just keeping up with technology changes, personnel changes and the general workload” as their most pressing issue and their top priority. This could be due to a majority of respondents still expecting budget decreases over the next fiscal year. Anecdotal evidence supports that staffing is less than pre-recession levels and yet more technology is being added with fewer staff to handle the workload.

As is the case with many other surveys conducted in early 2014, cybersecurity tops this survey as well. Forty-five percent (45%) of those official surveyed listed cyber security and network security as a top priority. Everyone agrees that cyber security should be an enterprise-wide endeavor and that every employee has a stake in making the jurisdiction a safe environment for business to be carried out and for information to be collected and exchanged. Something as simple as requiring employees to annually complete an on-line security-training questionnaire has proven helpful in many governments. Having policies to address access to file for exiting employees is also part of keeping a network secure. However, making security awareness a consistent message throughout the workplace is the best means of securing the network.

Many local government officials are really considering technology innovation, even with current budgetary stagnation. Smart device usage and public safety applications came in a robust third with just over 41% reporting these two topics as top priorities. Gartner predicted that by 2013 smart phones overtook PC’s as the most common web access device, and the analyst firm Berg stated that 98 billion apps would be downloaded in 2015. Both these statistics hold either serious threats or opportunities for the public safety community.

The results from this survey will be utilized by PTI staff and the PTI Public Safety Technology Council to develop a robust and relevant research agenda for 2014-2015.

On March 13, 2014, PTI’s Executive Director, Dr. Alan Shark reviewed the results of this original research during a PTI hosted webinar. The recording and power point presentation can be found at this link.

Public Safety Technology Priorities for 2014: PTI Survey Results

Of the sixteen public safety technology topics that were outlined by PTI, respondents placed the following as the top ten in order.

1. Just keeping up (technology changes, personnel changes, workload)
2. Cybersecurity
3. Smart devices and public safety apps
4. Records management and e-discovery
5. Funding/grant opportunities (local, state and federal)
6. Disaster mitigation, preparedness, response
7. Hosted services (cloud)
8. Shared services
9. BYOD, BYOT and Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
10. Role of GIS in public safety

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Originally posted at Public Technology Institute.