SafetyNet 2016 recap

By on October 7, 2016 8:41 am

SafetyNet is an annual conference hosted by Pulsiam and is focused on trends in software for the safety industry. Because of our expertise in shaping the modern web and our ongoing work with Pulsiam’s application development efforts, I was invited to deliver a keynote about the past, present, and future of the web, as this industry begins to transition to web-based solutions.

With mission-critical systems such as Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) for 911 emergency response operations, these types of applications need to be robust and reliable, especially during times of natural disasters. Needless to say, web applications built for this industry have stronger reliability requirements and must be conservative in their adoption of new technologies.

Day 1: Keynote sessions

After an opening reception the prior evening, the conference began with a welcome from Pulsiam’s CEO, Henry Unger, and then three keynote sessions.

The opening session was delivered by Ray Shirkhodai, Executive Director at the Pacific Disaster Center based in Maui. Ray talked about how the PDC manages advisories and data from more than two dozen organizations and provides meaning from that data, often with geospatial information. He also shared one of his favorite quotes, which is the answer to the question, “What is the difference between a hazard and a disaster? A hazard happens to my neighbor, a disaster happens to me.” Ray’s talk highlighted the impressive work done by their organization and others around the world to respond to natural disasters as efficiently as possible.

Next, I delivered a talk on the open web. While I usually deliver talks to web developers, the attendees of this conference were primarily users of safety software and managers of various control centers and organizations. My goal was to deliver an informative talk to engage and inform the audience on the possibilities of the web. Hopefully, I achieved that goal!

Following my session, Reinhard Ekl, the Director of 9-1-1 & Product Development at RapidSOS spoke about the challenges of modernizing 911 systems on mobile devices, in order to get an accurate location for a caller. The industry has a substantial set of legacy and modernization challenges, and they are a promising company that currently offers mobile apps to provide a better way to make a 911 call.

Day 1: Afternoon sessions

My favorite part of conferences is often the hallway track, as this is an opportunity to have more in depth discussions in smaller groups. Pulsiam takes this concept to heart as they created an afternoon of semi-structured hallway sessions. To achieve this, conference attendees were split into three groups and they rotated between rooms where each of the three keynote speakers were present to answer questions and have more in-depth discussions. It would be great if more conferences offered this type of information exchange with the speakers.

The conference was bi-lingual, with roughly one-third of the attendees speaking Spanish as their primary language. In an interesting twist, this group of attendees (primarily from Mexico) had already adopted more modern technologies and had very specific questions, whereas the groups from the US were more burdened by legacy issues and were just beginning to explore moving to web-based CAD solutions.

After the breakout sessions, I attended a demonstration of DragonForce by Drakontas COO James Sim, a powerful collaboration platform for the emergency industry.

Day 2: Morning sessions

In the morning, I attended a session on Emergency Incident Data Documents (EIDDs), an XML format being standardized for sharing emergency incident information between and among authorized entities and systems. Jerry Schlesinger, President of IntelliSYS spoke about how this will greatly modernize the way in which various safety systems communicate.

Pulsiam presented and highlighted some of their new development efforts. First, they demonstrated the SafetyNet Mobile Insight a powerful tablet and mobile app for the safety industry. After that, I attended the session on SafetyNet CAD in the browser, a product that we have helped the Pulsiam team deliver through our development, consulting, JavaScript support, and training services.

Day 2: Afternoon sessions

After lunch, I attended a demonstration of the SafetyNet Drone interface, an early product that shows drone information within the SafetNey CAD platform. Normally when I think of drones I think of:

More seriously though, drones may offer value in the safety industry during situations where it is not easy or safe to send more people, such as a toxic spill or a hostage situation. The session included the live flying of a drone with camera synchronization to the application.

Lance Manning of 1st Minute demonstrated their live translation application, with the aim to reduce language barriers during emergency response situations. Having explored internationalization and localization issues within apps for many years, it was interesting to see how they are taking the power of translation and offering that capability to facilitate real-time communication when it is needed most.

After the sessions concluded for the afternoon, I was given the opportunity to fly a drone for the first time. I did not need to take advantage of one of the nice features of the drone, which is that if they get lost, they are programmed to return home!

Conclusions

In our ongoing mission to modernize applications, tools, and teams, it was very interesting to learn more about the challenges and opportunities in the safety industry, and to share our insights on the direction of the web.

The safety industry is the epitome of mission-critical software, and is justifiably conservative in adoption of new technologies. It is impressive to see how the work we have done with Dojo, dgrid, Intern and other open web technologies is being used by Pulsiam to build and modernize platforms to help save lives and respond to emergencies! It’s also a solid endorsement of the work that has been done to make the web a stable and robust application platform.


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