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Automation is here today. Why not use it to improve the tools for First Respondents?

Updated on February 24, 2020
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i am a long-time avid technologist. i began my tech career in the Apple world but moved to Enterprise Solutions later.

Automation scares people today. But Skynet wasn't built in a day.

The question of automation is one that is a topic today that generates a buzz. Some of the buzz or hype comes from the “don’t replace people with machines” crowd. Some of the hype or buzz comes from we aren’t ready crowd, and finally, there are the last crows that say let’s get going! I tend to be a member of the last crowd.

Although I have seen the movie Terminator, and I am concerned about creating Skynet. I do believe, for the most part, that automation is a good thing. But I do also hear the arguments of those who are opposed to automation for several factors, including loss of human jobs.

I am not going to pronounce today that no jobs will be lost. Rather I would like to discuss which jobs would be modified, which jobs would be eliminated, and finally, which jobs would be done earlier. Jobs that risk human life is the initial ones to consider.

Today, we are not going to replace First Responders with robotic systems. AI is extremely functional (AI stands for Artificial Intelligence), but in the case of First Responders, AI isn’t going to replace a fireperson or policeperson today. What it may do is provide that responder with more information that will reduce the risk for the First responder. One of the things we can do today is sending a robot, remotely operated vehicle, into places where we don’t know if it is safe to send human beings. As I said, one of the big value propositions is reducing risk to human beings.

The other area where automation is interesting would be in the area of human reactions. Today some car manufacturers are equipping their cars with collision detection and prevention systems. Put, an automated system that brakes and stops your car in situations where the human being doesn’t respond fast enough. Those systems are increasing the safety of humans, but they are not Driverless cars. The human being has to be driving—the system steps in when the human is unable to react fast enough to a difficult situation.

Every time we can use a robot and not have to send a Fire person into a burning building that is a win!

So today, we have automated robots that help Frist Responders and sensor systems that help humans react faster in cars. Why are people afraid? The reality of where we are today. I started in IT when we didn’t have a connection. We strove to build connections for many years. In building more and better connections, we suddenly created the internet and the world we have today.

There are billions of devices connected in the world now. Many of them are cellular phones. But there are many more things connected now, and that is part of why people are afraid. We aren’t talking about ten devices; We aren’t even talking about 20 devices. We are talking about between 12.6 and 15 billion devices. Or, between 1.5 and 2 devices for every single human being on the planet earth.

We are being watched.

Let’s go back to those Frist Responders. You know, the people that run towards danger. They are highly trained critical members of our society. Anything we can do to reduce the risk of their jobs is a good thing. They use bomb disposal and bomb checking robots today. They have Drones that seek and find lost hikers in the wilderness.

If we think about that last scenario, traditionally, when a child is lost, or a hiker is lost, people volunteer, get together, and they start walking around wherever it is that the child or hiker was lost. With drones, they don’t have to walk as far. Humans can operate in the areas where drones struggle to fly, and the drones can cover much more distance and the advantage of the new system? Drones with infrared cameras can fly at night. In fact, in this case, finding a lost child, the mix of technology, automation, and humans increases the chances of success.

Automation can be scary. In the near term, let’s focus less on the bad things that could happen (say Skynet), and instead, let’s embrace the new way of helping First Responders do their jobs with a little less risk.

Automation is already here. The question I think is how can we make difficult jobs easier for human beings using this new automation capability. You still need volunteers to find a lost hiker, but wouldn’t it be nice to reduce the time it took to find that lost hiker?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Doc Andersen


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    • profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Andersen 

      4 weeks ago

      you are so right! there is much we can do with automation to make our world better!

    • RoadMonkey profile image


      4 weeks ago

      Yes, very definitely use robots to help first responders. They can also help doctors and nurses and paramedics by holding algorithms and information that can help them to help a sick person faster and more accurately.


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