BLOG 5.1.18



Realizing the Importance of Encryption for Public Safety Operations

May 1, 2018

Privacy and the use of encryption have been the topic of much conversation in the news recently. The advent of new, impressive technology also brings with it new opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit gaps to access and download data from users’ devices without their permission. Public safety has always had the need for private, secured communications to maintain the integrity of patient data, evidence, crime victims, incident response voice and data traffic, but now has the ability to leverage wireless LTE networks like FirstNet, enabling first responders to share critical data every day.


Protecting and encrypting these critical communications for public safety is particularly important because of the involvement of multiple agencies coordinating and conducting numerous operations, the number of people involved, and the need to protect and save lives. Software and devices that can hack transmissions or create fake cell towers to connect and gain access to critical communications are easily accessible to criminals who are intent on nefarious activities. When a cybercriminal gains access to public safety communications, privacy, first responder and citizen safety, and incident response and investigations are all at risk.


Leveraging open standards based encrypted communications within the public safety sector provides other critical benefits. Today, almost every organization, company and public agency has employees using agency-issued and/or personal mobile devices at work to communicate with each other on a daily basis. In most cases, these individuals are comingling their personal data and communications with that of their professional activities.  This can create major issues in records management and records retention, as well as blur the lines regarding data that is subject to state and federal public disclosure laws.  It is thus critically important to be able to electronically separate official communication from personal data on these devices, and to manage and control internal and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) communications, while still being able to leverage the incredible mobile productivity that recent developments in technology have to offer.


In this new era of “mobile first” communications within the public safety community, companies need to provide encrypted and integrated information and communications in a secure and seamless way, while improving productivity among the mobile public safety workforce. These capabilities should focus on protecting the privacy of communications while making it simpler, faster and more effective to connect, communicate and collaborate with individual contacts and teams via a comprehensive data platform.  For example, one such company, Secured Communications, currently offers value-added features on its platform as a service, such as encrypted one to one or group messaging, video, image, audio, file sharing and secure mobile voice calling.  Another public safety company, SceneDoc, leverages open standards based encryption on its 'mobile first' platform for data collection, workflow and digital evidence.  It is these types of innovations that will enable public safety to operate at peak efficiency with the peace of mind of secure, segregated communications.


The Benefits: Why Agencies Use Encrypted Communications


  • Encryption protects privacy and incident/investigation integrity, and offers improved safety and security for first responders, citizens and public safety agencies.


  • Mobile connectivity expands critical communication reach and first responder capability.


  • System features provide administrative controls over issued and/or BYOD mobile usage.


  • System applications help control risk and enable appropriate agency requirements related to public transparency.


  • Interoperability allows for open standards based unified LTE communication among agencies and first responders.


  • Open standards based encryption reduces costs for new mobile equipment.


With numerous advantages for public safety personnel who use agency-issued and/or personal devices at work, agencies are now able to embrace new technology, use it to their advantage, maintain the integrity of their operations, and be confident that the information is well-protected.



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