2017 saw the ever-present threat of terrorism being realised on our streets. Horror unfolded, bringing again the need for us to not only respond to events as they happened, but also to review our management of the situation to make sure we remain ready, equipping ourselves with the very best to keep the public and responders safe and deliver the most effective response whatever the circumstance.
Those reviews not only consider whether opportunity existed to intervene differently or earlier, but also the management of the event itself. Critical in the effective management of events is, as we all know, communication. Time and again failings in communication have been identified, from the enquiry into the tragic London Underground fire at Kings Cross in 1987 through to the response to the 7/7 bombings, and numerous other critical incidents where the management and dissemination of information key to providing an effective resolution has come into sharp focus.
It would be easy to think that new technology alone would provide solutions to the communication problems so frequently encountered, and of course to an extent it does. However, what it also does is complicate the communications landscape with added sources of information and systems in use. In 1987 the means of communication was limited to landlines, analogue CCTV, limited data over command systems and analogue duplex radio. Today, with every hand holding a camera, telephone and data device, CCTV evolved with new technologies capable of tracking and more, enormous volumes of data and digital radio systems, the communications landscape is not only more complex, but also immense. The issue now is not the means of communication itself, but rather how to join those different sources together to make a coherent whole so that decision makers have the complete picture and are able to work equipped with the best information available.
At the same time, pressures on public sector finances remain acute, compounded by the challenge of rising demand. In their study of Global Trends affecting the public sector, Barber Levy and Mendonca (Barber, Levy, & Mendonca, 2007) not only identify the causes of growing demand, but also some of the solutions. Key amongst their thinking is the use of technology. They identify that data use can transform long term planning and enable better decisions to be made, it can help productivity and provide insight into issues that require a response.
This increase in demand is not simply an issue for the wider public sector, but also a key pressure on the CT environment. Whether from the loan wolf actor, the radicalised returning from conflict zones, those at risk of radicalisation and using online resources to build their knowledge or from those who choose to ferment disharmony and promote hatred towards groups in our society, demand is increasing across the piece. Funding alone will not provide the solution to the challenge of capacity to cope with this demand. We must exploit technology to assist us, building new and more efficient ways of coping with demand.