Rockford, Illinois, is a very progressive place.
The self-proclaimed Forest City is home to the state’s largest music festival, and its Burpee Museum of Natural History features Jane, the world’s most complete, and best-preserved, juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex.
It’s also the birthplace of Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Cheap Trick.
But rock and dinosaurs don’t make you progressive.
What does is embracing video calling technology to link your city’s police force across every single station. And Rockford could get even more progressive by extending that virtual link to other emergency services in the area.
Video Calling Connections
The city of Rockford just approved a near-$100,000 project to install two video conferencing systems inside every police station in the district. The units will be used primarily to stage a consolidated roll call with every on-duty officer.
This is important because it alerts every officer to all the city-wide events, potential dangers, and ongoing investigations and problem areas they’ll likely encounter. It also facilitates a two-way dialogue between officers from otherwise disconnected, but ultimately intertwined, patrols.
Why is it progressive?
Because face-to-face communication is the most effective form of communication, and video conferencing is the only way to achieve that with a remote group. Better communication begets better coordination, right? And that has to benefit everyone served and protected by their local police.
Video conferencing also lets you take things beyond a mere talking head experience with emerging technologies that let you fill a chat window with digital information.
Mapping Out the Neighborhood with Video Calling
Augmented reality is already making its presence felt in the video calling world. You’re embracing the softer side of it when you don a silly mask during a smartphone video chat.
But you could easily get more serious with the technology. It could be used to place interactive maps at the heart of a conversation, an obvious benefit for a police force trying to coordinate multiple patrols across one city.
You could get a similar effect by using a simple shared-screen function common across most leading VC platforms. Here, you switch camera focus to an active desktop, allowing you to share with the entire group whatever is currently visible.
Add in some features like active speaker tracking, which automatically finds the active voice a crowded room, and the idea of conducting a remote group meeting just using phone conferencing, or having to relay the outcomes of several disconnected meetings across the city, seems horribly ineffective.
What’s more, the police could use this technology to include their colleagues in the fire, ambulance, and emergency services departments.
Group Calling Across the Emergency Services
Adding in a different department, or three, just means adding more callers to your group chat.
Video conferencing has already been used to bring together people in the hundreds through a series of town hall-style group broadcasts. And if you need to hear from only the heads of key units within your emergency services conference, mixed video calling and streaming sites like Facebook Live can bring everyone together.
So it’s possible that on days of major civic events, or in times of large-scale emergency, all the city’s defenders could be brought together in one virtual room to coordinate a response.
Each department would be able to take a turn at the lectern, displaying their digital maps, strategies, and perhaps even mug shots of potential troublemakers with their peers before anyone actually steps out onto the beat.
As such, every department could be made aware of how and where the other is operating, the kinds of issues they predict, and the potential help they’ll need to call upon. And the lines of communication could be kept open throughout the day via smartphone video apps.
It’s not something you’d need do every day–no one needs to start their shift with an hour-long conference call–but it could become something of a mobile communications hub.
Emergency services in India are already using such video calling systems to coordinate efforts to curb the havoc of the annual monsoons. If video conferencing can be used to combat a full frontal attack from Mother Nature, it could certainly help keep everyone safe during Illinois’s largest music festival.