Consumers Name Crime, While First Responders Rank Natural Disasters as Top Safety Matter
As 2008 hurricane season begins, new survey results compare consumers’ and first responders’ safety priorities; both say future technology is critical
SCHAUMBURG, IL – June, 2008 – Motorola, Inc. (NYSE:MOT) today released survey findings that reveal consumers rank crime as their top safety concern. Results of an APCO-Motorola survey conducted earlier this year found that first responders named natural disasters as their highest priority. Regardless of the emergency, both groups agree that investments in technology are vital to protect officers and the public they serve.
Marking the beginning of the 2008 hurricane season and National Safety Month, Motorola’s new consumer survey, which polled approximately 1,000 consumers nationwide, uncovered the public’s top safety priorities for their local communities. In the earlier first responder survey, Motorola teamed with the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) to poll 200 local firefighters, police officers, EMTs and county officials to determine their needs and concerns.
Overall, an analysis of the two surveys revealed that consumers and first responders have different concerns. For example, consumers selected crime and drugs (59 percent) which are immediate in nature and perhaps more frequent as opposed to less frequent events like natural disasters (19 percent). Conversely, first responders picked natural disasters like hurricanes, fires and floods (65 percent) as their top threat.
“During Hurricane Katrina, our communications systems became submerged in water and we were left unable to communicate with other counties to coordinate vital rescue and safety efforts,” said Ronnie Cuevas, undersheriff, Hancock County, MS Sherriff’s Department. “When a disaster strikes, communication is critical. Today, we’ve taken measures to ensure we have the technology we need, like a Project 25 digital communications system, so all of our agencies can talk to each other and we can also communicate with other counties to effectively coordinate evacuation, rescue and safety efforts.”
Both consumers and first responders felt technology was essential to protect the public during everyday emergencies and natural disasters. In fact 92 percent of consumers believed that investments in new technology were important, with 69 percent ranking it as extremely or very important.
“We are committed to investing in new technologies that are innovative, intuitive and interoperable so that first responders are armed with the tools they need to save lives,” said Bob Schassler, corporate vice president, Motorola Radio Products and Solutions Group, Government and Commercial Markets – Americas. “From withstanding harsh weather, fires and floods to improving response times to crimes, we work closely with first responders to develop new solutions.”
Yet, only one in five consumers felt that their communities were well funded to purchase these advanced technologies. Similarly, in the Motorola/APCO survey, first responders pinpointed new technology as essential to help them do their jobs.
“Improving communications and providing critical information to emergency responders helps save lives regardless of the emergency,” said Richard Mirgon, First Vice President of APCO.
“Plano has made a significant commitment to utilizing technology that helps our first responders better protect our community,” said David Stephens, director, Technology Services, City of Plano, TX. “Through the use of our citywide mesh network, our public safety personnel are able to communicate and coordinate incident management better. By extending many IP-based applications into the field, they are able to make better, informed decisions by having more diverse information available at the scene.”
The survey also found that consumer confidence in first responders’ ability to coordinate and get help from colleagues ranked high. Nearly all consumers (85 percent) surveyed felt their communities were equipped to obtain/coordinate help from other first responders such as Federal agencies, state officials or other counties. In addition, consumers believed their community was prepared to efficiently warn residents to evacuate in the event of a natural disaster with 43 percent ranking their communities as extremely or very prepared to do so.
“Neighboring York and James City counties both had significant gaps in their communications capabilities and decided to build a state-of-the art regional communication system to better coordinate both day-to-day operability as well as interoperability with surrounding governments,” said Terry Hall, emergency communications, York County, VA. “In just two years, the interoperable digital technology has been tested and proven time and again. When a fast-moving storm knocked out James City County’s 9-1-1 communication center, calls were immediately re-routed to York County and during Queen Elizabeth’s 2007 visit, county interoperability helped with federal, state and local governments to secure the area.”
Not surprisingly consumers’ opinions varied regionally as well. In the Northeast, more people (15 percent) worried about terrorist attacks versus those living in the Midwest, South and West regions combined (7 percent). Consumers in the South and West (22 percent) were more concerned with natural disasters like fires or hurricanes. In addition, southerners are more confident in their communities’ ability to warn residents in the event of an evacuation and are more likely to feel that their public safety officials will be able to connect them to loved ones in an emergency situation. This may be a result of evacuation signs, shelters and other procedures that coastal states have employed to help facilitate evacuation.
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