5 Common Misconceptions About Public Safety Software Moving to the Cloud

Sept. 23, 2019
Moving to the cloud is not only a possibility in the public safety software industry, it’s a reality all agencies should start embracing. Check out some common misconceptions of the cloud and what to consider when embracing the advantages it offers.

Content provided by Motorola Solutions Inc.

The average person today is more connected than ever before. Think about it. When was the last time you took a photo on your smartphone? Shared a file using an internet hosting service? Transferred money online instead of driving to the bank? Or even just read the newest bestseller on your tablet? We utilize the cloud every day and often don’t even think twice about it. Such connectivity is a simple part of life for most people. But that same connectivity often stops at the front door for many public safety agencies.

In the past few years, much of the functionality available to public safety professionals in their private lives just hasn’t been available to them in their workplace. But the public safety software industry is starting to catch up and moving to the cloud is not only a possibility, it’s a reality all agencies should start embracing. Below are some common misconceptions of the cloud and what to consider when embracing the advantages it offers.

Misconception #1: My Data Isn’t Safe in the Cloud

Even casual observers know that global cyber-crime networks are strengthening every day and government bodies are increasingly becoming the target of choice. For most public safety agencies, this means securing their physical premises better than ever before. It also means anticipating new methods cyber criminals might use and preparing for them, all of which can be difficult for agency personnel to keep up with while still focusing on keeping the community safe.

Moving your system data to the cloud actually decreases the risk of cyber attacks by providing you with a persistent layer of protection not available to most on-premises systems. When you utilize a cloud solution, you eliminate the need for your agency to protect a physical location and instead rely on world-class cybersecurity experts to manage developmental, architectural and operational security for your data. In addition, most data centers are highly redundant and geographically isolated to help ensure the data is continually available. With real-time updates and security patching, the cloud is naturally more dynamic, making it more proactive in combating potential threats.

Misconception #2: Moving to the Cloud will Disrupt Important Processes

The public safety industry has a reputation for not keeping pace with the latest technology. Even though having access to the latest technology is beneficial to both agency and community, changing or upgrading technology has historically come at a price, and not just a monetary one. Anyone who has gone through a new software implementation knows that go-lives can be challenging without the right vendor in place. Often, systems have to be shut down for a certain amount of time and getting things back online can be tricky. Many agencies worry that moving to the cloud will only amplify these same pain points.

In actuality, the cloud makes deploying the newest technology simple and less intrusive than with on-premises solutions. With the cloud, there is far less lag time and users are able to get the new technology off the ground quickly and efficiently so they can go back to what matters most - serving and protecting the community. Deploying software in the cloud means that incremental updates take place behind the scenes, so users have access to the most current features without the pain and delays of onsite upgrades.

Misconception #3: My Agency Can’t Afford the Cloud

As with any new subscription-based technology, some people are wary at first about continually paying a service subscription instead of owning the software outright. However, high maintenance costs of on-premises systems with the additional expense of hiring enough expert personnel to manage them strain public safety budgets every year.

The cloud uses an operational expenditure model, allowing you to pay a monthly or yearly subscription for the technology and eliminate many of the traditional on-premises costs. According to research conducted by MeriTalk, 57% of state or local agencies and 74% of federal agencies were able to cut application costs by moving to the cloud. Instead of managing your onsite infrastructure every day, you pay experts to manage the system in the cloud, which typically includes routine maintenance, updates and repairs.

The cloud also allows for greater flexibility in scaling the technology to match the usage of your agency while accommodating any extreme fluctuations in workloads. This means you don’t have to worry about paying for extra capabilities you don’t take advantage of and you are ready for unexpected changes in capacity. It also means you can cost effectively scale for additional processing power, bandwidth, and storage as your agency’s workload changes over time.

Misconception #4: Accessing Data Through the Cloud is Overwhelming

The growing volume of incoming data and the ever increasing types of data now available to agencies can be difficult to access and digest efficiently, especially if the data is not centralized. With such an overwhelming “explosion of data” to consider, it can seem even more daunting to then transition to a new cloud location.

In reality, by utilizing the cloud, everyone at your agency (and potentially even those at neighboring agencies with the right permissions) has access to the same, centralized information, whether that be incident records, videos, radio logs, messages or event logs. Sharing data in this way unlocks new insights that improve processes and facilitate faster response time. According to the same study by MeriTalk, 69% of state or local agencies and 77% of federal agencies felt their productivity improved by moving to the cloud. The cloud also enables new capabilities like digital assistants, video analytics and artificial intelligence to help you manage the data explosion and extract deeper insights from your data. And, as mentioned earlier, the ability of the cloud to easily scale with your agency in computer power and storage capacity means you can easily expand to meet the rising volume of data.

Misconception #5: The Cloud will Completely Replace My Current Systems

Many agencies today worry that moving to the cloud will be like “starting over” in terms of investments in equipment and software, as well as in organizational processes. But transitioning to the cloud is not a zero-sum game.

An important thing to keep in mind is that cloud deployment does not have to come all at once. Many agencies moving over to the cloud are doing so in incremental steps, augmenting day-to-day activities with new cloud functionality while still maximizing the value of their existing on-premises investment. The cloud also enables common user experience design so workflows can evolve over time, capabilities can expand and applications can be added without adapting the entire system, amplifying your investment over time. With the right vendor to partner with and guide the process, you can make a plan and begin evolving toward your agency’s desired technology end state without disrupting mission-critical performance for any of your teams.

Moving Forward with a Trusted Industry Partner

This public safety trend of transitioning to the cloud may seem overwhelming. However, with the right partner in place, not only can this process be simple, it can also be customized to best fit your agency’s needs. At Motorola Solutions, we believe in working with each agency’s unique challenges to seamlessly evolve their operations into the cloud, at their own pace. Our 90 years of industry experience uniquely positions us to partner with our customers in a consultative role to provide your agency with the modern policing technology you need without disrupting mission-critical service to your community.

Learn more about how Motorola Solutions is reshaping the end-to-end public safety software experience at motorolasolutions.com/software.

Jessica Bouwhuis is a marketing writer for Motorola Solutions, a leading global provider of mission-critical communications. The company’s CommandCentral software suite unifies data and streamlines workflows from call to case closure, improving safety and efficiency for users and communities. 

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