City and state organizations everywhere are discovering a greater need for centralized control room or command center technology. Unprecedented societal events are prompting several public health and safety initiatives. While many communities share common problems, each is developing unique solutions involving the acquisition of technology designed to expedite response efforts during crises. Fortunately, if you know where to look, there are numerous existing tech procurement options to fill financial gaps many overextended and underfunded agencies experience.
Federal Grants and Funding
The federal government earmarks substantial resources for procurement assistance. Financial aid typically goes to state governments, local municipalities, or private non-profit entities. Depending on restrictions, grants are distributed for preventative measures (to acquire supplies and relevant technology) or in response to natural disasters and public emergencies.
Community safety and law enforcement organizations rely heavily on technology platforms that improve situational awareness, like collaborative visualization systems. Multi-camera video streams of city centers, highways, parks, and government facilities help responders prioritize areas of concern. Instant web streaming provides live updates of developing situations. Undoubtedly, control rooms or mobile field operations represent a significant investment but are highly instrumental and effective in putting the right teams in the right place, at the right time.
Federal Procurement Resources
- Grants.gov: You can find competitive grant opportunities from all federal grant-making agencies through this site. These listings support the development or management of government programs. You can also sign up for announcements of new grants and modifications to existing ones.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Increase your department’s chances of securing a FEMA backed grant by familiarizing your team with federal procurement rules. This includes a public assistance program.
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS): The DHS is an excellent resource for state, local, tribal, and other regional authorities. Its financial assistance program supports agencies in the prevention and response to terrorist attacks and other disasters. DHS utilizes the Grants.gov portal referenced above for application submittals.
- Department of Justice (DOJ): Grants issued from the DOJ focus on training and technical assistance for public safety activities. They also support research and implementation of justice system program improvements.
Additional links to lesser-known technology procurement options are available through the DOJ Office of Justice Programs, Law Enforcement Resources.
State and Foundation Grants
Federal agencies can award resources for almost any size project. Alternatively, local governments and foundations may be better suited to smaller budget allocations. Although funding is limited, so is competition, as there are usually greater restrictions on qualifications to apply. GrantWatch is a great search tool to review a wide and diverse range of grant opportunities.
Civil and Criminal Forfeiture
The forfeiture and seizure of criminal or civil assets following due process create an opportunity for state and local law enforcement agencies to invest in real-time crime operation centers. Budgeting and allocation of these funds are difficult to manage, as they depend entirely on events outside an agency’s control. Nevertheless, this strategy provides a creative solution for tech acquisition, particularly for organizations in larger cities.
Researching grant opportunities and funding strategies for new technology procurement can be overwhelming, but well worth the effort. The downstream value of lives saved, or disasters averted due to effective situational technology cannot be overestimated. Now more than ever public safety organizations need visual collaboration solutions to efficiently address the needs of their communities. It’s important to take advantage of the technology procurement opportunities available.