Blog // Connect South Carolina

Mobile Data Access & Adoption among South Carolina’s Firefighters

By Jennifer Cobb

A mobile data device is a common feature in public safety vehicles across the country, especially in metropolitan areas, allowing communication from a police car, ambulance, or fire truck to a central dispatch office. This device also provides pertinent mapping and safety information.

In South Carolina’s public safety sector, and specifically with firefighters, the adoption of mobile data, laptops, and computers is becoming widespread as the benefits mean quicker reporting and submission. In cities like Columbia, most fire trucks are equipped with mobile data devices because of the availability of broadband.

“In the past, fire departments have had no access to real-time information during calls, other than information available from a dispatch center,” said South Carolina State Firefighters Association Deputy Director Jason Pope. “If they didn’t bring it on the truck, they did without.  Mobile data terminals provide a great resource to aid in decision-making, and they provide an efficient way to submit incident reports in a timely manner.”

In rural South Carolina, the majority of the firefighters are volunteers and financial resources are scarce. Coupled with the financial difficulties is the lack of connectivity in the areas where these firefighters are dispatched.

“Approximately seventy-five percent of South Carolina firefighters are volunteer and they usually cover large, rural areas. Mobile data or broadband coverage is still making its way into those areas, so availability of these services is an issue,” said Pope. “In situations where broadband is available, often times, they don’t have the necessary funds to cover the added costs.”

In a perfect scenario, all public safety vehicles would be outfitted with laptops and computers. What must come first is widespread access to broadband and technology, which improves all areas of life, including the public safety sector.




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