Situational awareness technologies are designed to optimize operational decision-making from the top of the org to the bottom.
Decision-makers across a variety of industries already recognize that situational awareness is key. Having a comprehensive understanding of the location, timing, and context of events as they occur is critical for operational success. But not all businesses have invested in the array of necessary situational awareness technologies that could help bring about transformation.
Essentially, situational awareness technologies are those that enable the user to have a more comprehensive, informed, action-ready understanding of their domain. Teams can go well beyond a visual scan or manual check with the force multiplying capabilities of data-gathering devices like connected cameras, sensors, and GIS. Internet of Things (IoT) and similar tech tools extend human abilities, delivering more information more quickly to end users, and ultimately improving situational awareness at the organizational level.
IoT Technology for Situational Awareness
One major factor in improved situational awareness is the rise of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies over the past two decades. More and more enterprises are investing in an array of heterogeneous physical devices like sensors, drones, vehicles, and cameras, that are networked together to gather and communicate data.
Organizations can install or place an appropriate assortment of IoT devices that will gather the information they need to make operational decisions. These devices can function on a continuous or intermittent basis, installed in ways that complement human abilities or go well beyond what humans could perceive. Sensors may pick up location, temperature, vibration, and other metrics, while drones and cameras gather and send images and video footage. GIS technologies track movement across the environment. All this data can feed into a central platform, where it is made available for humans to read or view.
The potential uses for IoT technology have expanded rapidly as hardware prices fall and software options improve. Indeed, the IoT market continues to grow, potentially doubling between 2018 and 2021. Industries are quickly adopting these technologies — a 2018 Bain & Company study revealed that enterprise and industrial customers alike were investing in IoT, with around half having already completed a proof-of-concept.
Software for Situational Awareness
Situational awareness technologies go beyond IoT devices, as even a robust array won’t be useful if the business doesn’t have an efficient way to aggregate and view that data. The actual software for situational awareness is what draws together all that IoT data and transforms it into a format that human users can use. There are several possible forms for that software, like an in-house application, or a cloud-based PaaS or aPaaS solution that shifts more of the work to a dedicated third-party vendor.
A number of software solutions may promise situational awareness, but they don’t necessarily all deliver. For software to successfully improve situational awareness for end users, it isn’t enough for the platform to simply collect and transmit data. It has to get information across to users in a way that generates actionable insights about the environment.
To do that, successful software for situational awareness must provide, first and foremost, the right data to end users, which means it successfully integrates with all necessary data sources, regardless of format (and allows you to exclude the sources that merely create “noise”). The platform should also deliver the data at the right time — critical information should come across in real time, and events that meet designated criteria should immediately trigger a specific response within the program.
In addition, situational awareness software needs to optimize how users view and interact with the data. That could mean a platform that visualizes the data through maps or charts. Alternatively, it could mean robust alerting features that can flag certain events and push those notifications to specific users. In addition, the software should allow multiple parties to access a common operational picture — one “pane of glass” with shared information. With these features in place, users can gain a more contextual and up-to-date understanding of their operational domain.
The Growing Market for Situational Awareness Technology
Multiple industry verticals are poised to take advantage of situational awareness technologies. Private enterprises and government sectors alike are expected to invest in the space in the coming years. According to Allied Market Research, the situational awareness software market may reach some $32.6 billion by 2022, with a CAGR of 8.2%. Meanwhile, the IoT market is growing even more quickly, with a CAGR of 19.75% — by 2022, this market could reach $2.4 trillion worldwide.
There are many potential use cases across multiple industries that demonstrate the broad interest in situational awareness technologies. Car rental companies employ situational awareness technology in order to manage ever-fluctuating inventories. Event safety professionals may use software to draw together data from surveillance cameras, gunshot sensors, metal and motion detectors for real-time event awareness across the venue. In smart cities, public officials and private partners are using situational awareness software to capture new efficiencies across departments from public transit to public safety and more.
Clearly, there are reasons for industries across the board to start thinking about how investing in situational awareness technology could improve their operational efficiency and potentially transform the way they do business. With a combination of IoT devices and the right software, today’s companies can improve their decision-making processes and ultimately gain a competitive edge in the form of enhanced situational awareness.