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Are digital natives part of your mission-critical communications strategy?

Here’s an aspect of mission critical communications that you may not have considered: What role in your strategy can be played by the unique telecommunications habits of your millennial generation first responders?

Sure, this question might sound odd at first, but it’s well worth your consideration. After all, these individuals, called digital natives, were the first to grow up alongside digital communications technology and the first to live with the internet from their early age. Their lifelong exposure to new technology can be a real asset in public safety’s mission to protect lives and property – especially as we move into the age of mobile broadband.

Members of this younger generation increasingly are joining the ranks of public safety professionals. For example, people under 30 years of age already represent more than 25% of all firefighters in the United States, according to Careers in Fire Service (CFS). In fact, the US Department of Labor (DOL) has found that first responders tend to have more employees within younger age ranges than the total workforce. The DOL also found a notable decline in the share of those employed as first responders in older age ranges, between ages 45 and 55, with emergency medical technicians (EMTs) having the highest share of employees ages 25 to 34.

These young people have a very different relationship to technologies and communications than that of the previous generation and one that makes them more inherently adept at adopting new mobile broadband tools. Just consider these findings from Deloitte’s 2017 mobile consumer survey from a nationally representative sample of UK users:

  • Those between the ages of 18 and 24 are more likely than other age groups to communicate through social networks on the smartphones, use a range of instant messaging services, make video calls and make voice calls over the internet rather than through traditional phone systems.
  • Within half an hour of waking up, more than 70% of 18- to 24-year-olds have looked at their phones. By comparison, just 10% of people over 25 check their phones immediately and only one-fifth do so within five minutes.
  • Some 55% of this group use their smartphones to watch videos. For the wider population, watching video declines with age.
  • 67% of 18-24 year olds use instant messaging apps regularly, versus 42% of people over 25.

Digital natives also are leading a decline in voice calls.  As of mid-2015, 31% of 18- to 24-year-olds reported not making calls on a weekly basis, compared to an average for adults of 22%, according to Deloitte.

So,what does this all mean for public safety and the question of how to strategically incorporate the habits of the younger generation?

First, offering these advanced mission-critical technologies to your digital native first responders will allow you to reduce the temptation to use advanced consumer networks which have not been designed for public safety. That could help avoid situations like the one that took place a few years ago in Sweden, when a private citizen was accidentally added to a WhatsApp messaging group used by a police team for a criminal investigation, and then received confidential messages, pictures, and personal information about a suspect!

Second, considering the progress made, at different levels by the industry, to make mission-critical broadband communications ready:

  • Industry standardization: Most essential public safety features are now embedded in the latest 4G release of the mobile broadband standard, LTE, bringing cutting-edge capabilities to users.
  • Powerful new applications such as: live video sharing to control centers or teams travelling to a scene, helping them prepare for arrival or offer better support; real-time vital-signs monitoring of public safety officers to check their safety; and patient data sharing from the ambulance to the hospitals.
  • Multiple deployment options: LTE for broadband public safety allows multiple deployment models (including leveraging existing commercial networks using traffic and user differentiation). These options allow you to find a path to quick-start use of these new technologies, and for first responders to more easily become familiarized with them.

It all adds up to this: If you roll out today’s powerful new mission-critical services in conjunction with a larger share of digital natives working as first responders, you will be able to more quickly adopt and fully leverage the technology. It’s a compelling strategy that can make an important difference whenever and wherever an emergency may strike.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of LTE for public safety.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #publicsafety #nokia #LTE #missioncritical #security

Arnaud Legrand

About Arnaud Legrand

Arnaud leads Nokia’s public sector marketing efforts, educating government entities on the advances and benefits of telecommunications to improve the services they deliver to their citizens and businesses. When he’s not studying the latest market trends, you can find him recharging his batteries kite surfing and conquering the waves.

Tweet me at @ArnaudLegrand

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