As a ‘tech guy,’ I’m often asked what my favorite piece of technology is. I never really gave this question much thought before, but I imagine my fellow public safety technologists are asked this same question pretty often as well.
We all have our favorite technology. Many of us wear it on the wrist, others in the pocket, and while some enjoy the shiny freshness of a new laptop or mobile device, others prefer the tried-and-true simplicity of the ballpoint pen.
Regardless of your preference, you’ve probably noticed that when using a technology that works WITH you, you feel it. And on the flipside, you feel it even more dramatically when that technology doesn’t work!
Have you ever thought of what makes a piece of hardware, software or some other technology solution “good”?
While no technology is absolutely perfect, a strong technology solution does have a few key components – even the under-rated ballpoint pen!
So what are these qualities and how can you spot them the next time you’re shopping around?
“Good” technology can be characterized as…
Functional / Non-invasive
Perhaps the #1 quality of a strong piece of technology is its ability to easily work with the user and do what is expected. “Good” tech isn’t showy, but “…when done well, should be invisible” (Jared Spool).
Open / Compatible
Technology should be open, compatible and available to connect to other systems whenever possible (this is called “interoperability”). This isn’t just helpful to the end user; open data has the potential to help our law enforcement partners many years into the future by keeping an archive of data to compare trends from year to year.
Standardized / Structured
This one is more difficult; a “good” technology definitely has a correct use that has been carefully designed and tested by the provider/developer, but should also be scalable and personalized enough to make each user feel like they’re getting a unique experience. A strong technology solution uses intuition and function to drive user experience – it doesn’t require the user to learn an entirely new system or methodology.
Simple / Intuitive
“Good” technology doesn’t need a 463-page user guide or perform hundreds of different functions with mediocrity; it should be focused on a set of core features that are designed and coordinated seamlessly with other systems/solutions.
Choosing the right partner (not just a vendor who sells you equipment then leaves you in the dust) is equally as important as the other qualities. Why? Well what would happen if your Driver’s License scanner isn’t communicating properly with the computer? Or if you need to install a printer driver? While other vendors may leave you to figure it out yourself, a true partner becomes an extension of your team by providing the technical knowledge and support you need to be successful.
Sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint these features before you get some hands-on time with the tech. Make sure you get to play with it (or at least see a demo and ask some questions) before you purchase! We provide demo equipment for some of the latest patrol-vehicle technology. Contact them here to see if you qualify.