Verizon Frontline Public Safety Communications Survey 2022
First responders count on afast, reliable network to get the job done.
First responders report they overwhelmingly depend on smartphones on a fast, reliable network to deliver coordinated, life-saving public safety services across the nation and they expect their job to require even more connected devices in the next five years.
These findings highlight input from 1,825 first responders at fire and police departments, emergency medical services agencies, public safety answering points and emergency call centers nationwide who took part in our latest Verizon Frontline Public Safety Communications Survey.
The public safety communications world is currently dominated by smartphones, tablets and land mobile radios (LMRs), which first responders listed as their most-used communications technologies. But in the very near future, the use of additional technologies such as internet-connected vehicles and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) applications will become more widespread, expanding the capabilities of public safety agencies.
Powering this new wave of technology is 5G, which is set to become the foundation for first responders looking for a faster, more resilient network that can help them stay connected and informed – especially during an emergency.
The survey, conducted by Lexipol on behalf of Verizon Frontline, asked first responders about technology challenges and their predictions for the future. It found a strong dependence on smartphones, growing interest in new devices such as drones and the capabilities of 5G, as well as a continuing demand for features like network reliability and interoperability when a crisis strikes.
First responders are readyfor more connected devices.
Smartphones and tablets are likely to remain essential daily communication tools with 91% of respondents saying they expect to be using a smartphone and 68% reporting they expect to be using a tablet every day five years from now. Land mobile radios (LMRs), currently used daily by 89% of first responders, are expected to slightly decline in popularity.
Looking ahead at the top priorities for public safety agencies in the next five years, connected vehicles were by far the most popular choice across all first responders at 37%. This number was even higher for those in emergency medical services (41%). Compared to other first responders, fire departments have more diverse priorities and say AR/VR training will be a higher priority than smartphones and internet-connected vehicles in the future.
Drones could see an even bigger percentage uptick in daily use, growing from 8% today to 40% in five years. AR and VR are also likely to gain impressive numbers, from just 1% of first responders reporting daily use now to an expected 20% daily usage rate in five years.
- 92% of first responders say smartphones are essential daily communication tools, and that’s unlikely to change in the next five years. Land mobile radios (LMRs) are used daily by 89% of first responders but usage is expected to decline.
- 37% of all first responders indicated connected vehicles would become a top priority within the next five years.
- 40% of first responders see daily drone usage increasing within five years.
First responders want a fast,reliable network.
In daily use and during emergencies, first responders have two priorities as it relates to their public safety communications provider: network reliability and speed. More than three quarters of first responders (77%) say reliability and resiliency are the most important factors, followed by cost (13%), and customer service (4%). In emergency situations, the importance of reliability and resiliency rises to 81%, followed by interoperability (47%) and having durable devices (46%).
Beyond these two requirements, first responders also want a network with fast speeds for media sharing and one that offers interoperability to communicate with multiple different agencies and organizations for a unified response.
- 77% say reliability and resiliency are the most important factors, followed by cost (13%), and customer service (4%).
- In emergency situations, the importance of reliability and resiliency rises to 81%, followed by interoperability (47%) and having durable devices (46%).
5G is the future of public safety.
There is strong demand among public safety professionals for network reliability and interoperability, as well as a desire to take advantage of the enhanced communication and technological capabilities enabled by 5G.
The benefits of 5G, such as higher speed and lower latency, will have an important impact on the future of public safety, with 77% of those surveyed calling 5G a priority. Asked about the benefits of 5G for public safety, first responders put reliability first (42%), followed by speed (34%), enhanced situational awareness and a more effective use of data (both 12%).
When asked about features they want added to their communications technology, nearly 60% said they desire stronger connections in the field. Other responses include faster upload and download speeds (39%), the ability to share location information with team members in the field (42%), and the ability to quickly share images, videos and other files from the field (37%).
- First responders say the benefits of 5G will have a sizable impact on the future of public safety, with the overwhelming majority (77%) recognizing 5G as a priority.
- When asked about features they want added to their communications technology, nearly 60% said they desire stronger connections in the field.