Public Safety

Secure Information Sharing & Collaboration in Public Safety


No day in a public safety organization is the same – but every day demands collaboration among colleagues and other organizations to get the job done and keep citizens and employees safe. Many agencies rely on technology to enable this collaboration to better respond to and manage resources across three core types of events that public safety officers confront:

  • Planned – These are events that the organization and network knows of, and has developed detailed and documented plans and procedures. These include public gatherings like parades and sporting events.
  • Unplanned – Events that may have a standard operating procedure, but may be unexpected and call for immediate response. These include accidents, fires, and weather emergencies.
  • Ongoing Communications – Cadence briefings, whether internal team meetings or public. These non-operational events aim to share information in multiple forms in order to better plan for upcoming events.

To properly respond to these events, organizations need to collaborate and communicate easily and securely, sometimes at a moment’s notice. Many agencies, roughly 47% according to a recent flash poll, feel that they have the tools necessary to collaborate and coordinate resources online during a response situation. However, only 35% of survey respondents said those tools were easy to use. This discord is astonishing, especially for public safety organizations. When it comes to crisis response, ease of use and security are imperative – so what tools are the other 65% of agencies using to enable easy-to-use, secure meetings?

The Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) is where many state, local, federal, international, tribal, and private sector Homeland Security partners manage operations, send alerts, and share the information they need to be able to do their jobs. HSIN helps oversee, manage, and coordinate resources around events that are both planned and unplanned. For example, over the course of a year, HSIN helped to plan the Star-Spangled Spectacular, which brought together 150+ agencies and over one million visitors. HSIN was used to pre-plan the events and was critical for day-of communications. The Star-Spangled Spectacular featured a virtual command center that provided situational awareness and a dedicated common operating picture to officials. Even more, the day-of the event, HSIN was able to grant access to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center (MCAC) to share Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES) information to personnel.

Similarly, HSIN has been a key resource for unplanned events, like the West Virginia Chemical Spill. The tool helped to coordinate resources for the more than 300,000 people affected by the accident. HSIN united state, local, emergency management, and health agencies to develop a coordinated response to this disaster. On HSIN, multiple agencies were able to share weather updates, water quality tests, citizen communications, status checks, and more.

To do all of this, HSIN relies on Adobe tools, particularly Adobe Connect. Adobe Connect is more than just a solution to share desktops or broadcast video; Adobe Connect meeting rooms are agile and secure enough to become central hubs for projects and events. Users can design meeting rooms that serve as portals for people and agencies involved in event planning or event response. These rooms can hold all of the conversations and content that has been shared via presentations and user chats. If any of the data shared in the room leaves – either by being printed or downloaded – data rights management is applied so that the rights and permissions follow the document wherever it goes.

For added security measures, access to the room and the information within it can be granted on a need to know basis. Users are able to access the right level of information for them to complete their job based on their assigned roles and access. Adobe Connect also employs a strong, two-factor authentication login procedure and can also deploy a meeting room passcode for an additional layer of security. All of these features are automated and can be customized by event organizers.

Furthermore, Adobe Connect provides the ease-of-use that many other collaboration tools lack. All participants (or users) need is standard Internet access to join a meeting or collaboration session. Adobe Connect also helps to unite users in remote locations who may not have access to a standard desktop; field agents can enter the meeting rooms through a standard web browser on their phones and still get the same experience as a desktop user.

Cross-team and cross-agency collaboration is a key task for any organization involved in public safety. Event organizers and respondents should consider utility, ease of use, and security when selecting the right tool for their meetings, whether planned or reactive. For more details on how public safety organizations are using Adobe Connect to better collaborate and respond to events, watch this webcast on secure information sharing and collaboration.

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