How to buy data management products


By Jarret Winkelman
Incident Response Technologies

As mobile data continues to become more prevalent in public safety, the need to effectively manage data will continue to grow. The concept of data management is relatively simple on the surface. However when you compound several years of records that may have been inputted using various different software and networking solutions, it can become quite complex. The following are a few thoughts to consider as you take on the complex task of purchasing data management products.

Data Security
Data security is one of the most important considerations in the data management process. Data security can be divided into two parts — physical security and network security.

Physical security includes the server the data will be stored on, its location, and how difficult it is to physically access. Is the server stored in the basement of your station or offsite at a professional data center? Perhaps your software vendor provides the software as a service and houses the data on servers at their facility. From a physical security perspective, professional data centers and hosted software solutions can provide greatly enhanced security.

Network security relates to how easily data can be accessed or intercepted when used over a network. If your software vendor is hosting the software on their servers, is the data encrypted when it is transmitted to your computer? If you host your own software on a local network, what security is in place to prevent eavesdropping? These are questions that need to be answered when new data management solutions are acquired.

Compatibility
The other critical factor related to data management is your solutions compatibility with various software platforms. For example, let's say a department keeps records regarding calls for service produced by their computer aided dispatch system for 10 years. Recently they changed CAD vendors and implemented new dispatch software. How will dispatchers cross-reference call history and responder safety information from both the new and old systems? Is it possible to combine this into a single interface? Again, these are questions that should be considered sooner rather than later to prepare for future technology changes.

Any other suggestions? Anything we missed in the list above? Leave a comment below or e-mail products@firerescue1.com with your feedback.

Jarret Winkelman is an owner and regional sales director at Incident Response Technologies, LLC. IRT provides affordable administrative, scheduling, training, and incident management solutions to public safety agencies. Mr. Winkelman currently serves as the assistant chief of a volunteer EMS agency and has diverse experience in the search and rescue, fire and EMS fields.

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