On Cloud Nine: Embracing the SaaS Advantage

By Jason Driggers, Customer Success Manager, Carbyne

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In the chaotic world of 9-1-1, technology plays a crucial role in improving response times, enhancing communication, and ultimately saving lives. One of the most significant advancements in recent years is the adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. However, procurement of these tools come with a set of challenges, especially when it comes to government purchases. This blog aims to provide 9-1-1 professionals with a comprehensive understanding of SaaS, its potential benefits for their operations, and efficient avenues for procurement.

What is SaaS?
Let’s start with what is SaaS? Software as a Service (SaaS) refers to a cloud-native software delivery model where applications are hosted and maintained by a third-party provider. Instead of purchasing and installing software on individual devices, emergency services organizations can access these applications through the internet on a subscription basis. This eliminates the need for extensive infrastructure and allows for scalable and flexible solutions.

Apprehension to SaaS
Admittedly many public safety organizations are hesitant about making the transition to SaaS solutions, since they lack the decades of battle-tested experience that legacy solutions have earned. Nevertheless, as we consider the numerous benefits offered by SaaS to public safety, we realize that the pros outweigh the cons, and the transition is certainly worthwhile.

Benefits of SaaS in 9-1-1
There are several benefits offered by SaaS solutions for 9-1-1, including:

Cost-Effectiveness: SaaS eliminates the need for upfront hardware and software investments, reducing capital expenditure. 9-1-1 centers can instead allocate their resources towards other critical areas, such as training or equipment upgrades.

Accessibility and Mobility: SaaS applications can be accessed from any location with an internet connection, enabling emergency responders to access critical information and collaborate seamlessly. This mobility is particularly advantageous during field operations, where real-time data sharing and communication can significantly improve response effectiveness.

Scalability and Flexibility: SaaS solutions are designed to grow and adapt to the evolving needs of emergency services organizations. As call volumes increase or new features become necessary, SaaS providers can easily scale their services to accommodate these changes. This ensures that emergency services can keep up with the demands of their communities.

Enhanced Data Security: SaaS providers invest heavily in robust security measures to protect sensitive emergency services data. Regular backups, encryption, and adherence to industry regulations ensure that critical information remains secure and protected from unauthorized access.

SaaS Procurement
Now that we’ve looked at the benefits of SaaS for 9-1-1, let’s discuss ways to bring SaaS tools to 9-1-1 centers. Typically, the process is a Request for Proposal (RFP) which may not always be the most efficient or effective method. A couple of reasons why:

Time Constraints: The RFP process can be lengthy, involving multiple stages such as drafting, issuing, evaluating proposals, and negotiating contracts.

Lack of Flexibility: RFPs typically require detailed specifications and predefined requirements, which may not align with the rapidly changing needs of 9-1-1 centers.

Cost Considerations: Developing and managing an RFP can be resource-intensive, requiring significant time and effort from both the buyer and potential vendors.

Alternative Approaches
When regular procurement channels are prohibitive, we can consider alternative approaches to Procurement, such as:

Sole Sourcing: This refers to purchasing directly from one vendor without going through an RFP process. This is feasible when the vendor in question provides a set of technologies not matched by other vendors.

Cooperative Purchasing: Collaborating with other emergency service providers or joining purchasing cooperatives can provide access to pre-negotiated contracts with vetted vendors. This approach streamlines the procurement process by leveraging the collective buying power of multiple organizations, reducing administrative burdens and costs.

Pilot Programs and Trials: Instead of committing to a full-scale implementation, emergency service providers can opt for pilot programs or trials to evaluate the suitability and effectiveness of a solution. This approach allows organizations to test the solution in a real-world setting, gather feedback, and make informed decisions based on actual performance.

In navigating the realm of emergency services, the integration of Software as a Service (SaaS) emerges as a beacon of progress. The potential benefits for 9-1-1 operations are vast, from cost-effectiveness and heightened accessibility to fortified security measures. However, the path to procurement isn’t without its hurdles, especially within the confines of government procedures. Despite these challenges, alternative approaches such as sole sourcing or cooperative purchasing present viable solutions to streamline the acquisition process. Ultimately, embracing SaaS stands as not just a technological shift but a pivotal step toward fortifying emergency response systems, ensuring they evolve hand in hand with the dynamic needs of our communities.

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