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Survey: Majority of first responders call for technology upgrades to stop cyberattacks, dispatch outages

New report reveals critical need for public safety agencies to deploy modern cloud-native dispatch and technology systems to better support the communities they serve

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NEW YORK — Mark43, the leading cloud-native public safety software company, today announced the results of a U.S. national survey of first responders revealing major concerns with cybersecurity, disaster recovery and information-technology (IT) resilience. Public safety professionals want technology upgrades and adoption of federal standards for first responder IT security, reporting and efficiency. A new 2024 U.S. Public Safety Trends Report released today documents the complete survey results.

“We heard a resounding response from first responders across the country: They are concerned about their public safety agency’s ability to withstand cyberattacks and natural disasters, given the ever-increasing number and severity of bad actors attacking public infrastructure as well as the uptick in extreme weather incidents,” said Matthew Polega, Co-founder and President, Mark43. “Public safety professionals made it clear that they need access to modernized systems — like cloud-native CAD and RMS — to improve the security and resilience of their agencies, so they can respond faster to community members in need. Our 2024 U.S. Public Safety Trends Report shows that technology plays a central role in everything a public safety agency does, and by using Mark43 technology, police departments can improve the safety and quality of life for all.”

The below data points from the survey illustrate the vast majority of first responders’ concerns about cybersecurity, natural disasters, power grid failures, dispatch outages and IT malfunctions, and their suggestions for improving IT resilience.

First responders are seriously concerned about cybersecurity attacks, and have experienced them, too.

  • The ever-increasing number, severity and cost of cyberattacks is reflected in the concerns and experiences of first responders. Eighty-two percent worry that their organization’s data could be stolen or fall victim to ransomware, a 6% increase over the 2023 U.S. Public Safety Trends survey, showing a need for enhanced security like cloud-native computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and records management systems (RMS).
  • A near-total majority (91%) of first responders have experienced cybersecurity-related issues in the past year like phishing, scam calls and malware attacks. Scam calls and malware/viruses are now the leading cybersecurity concern for first responders, overtaking phishing from last year’s survey.
  • A near-total majority (92%) of first responders also are somewhat or very concerned about how their agencies would handle a tactical response to cyberattacks or physical attacks at large-scale events like sports games, concerts and conventions.

Public safety professionals have major concerns regarding natural disasters and power grid failures.

  • The vast majority of first responders are also very concerned about the impact of natural disasters and power grid failures on their agencies, with 84% reporting that such events can overwhelm public safety agencies and impact the service they deliver to their community.
  • Alarmingly, 96% would be somewhat or very concerned if on-site mission-critical servers that are used in on-premises systems were in a location in the path of a hurricane or other major weather event.

Emergency responders have experienced dispatch outages that impact response time.

  • More than two-thirds (67%) of first responders have experienced dispatch outages, and 88% have experienced other IT malfunctions. Eighty-four percent of first responders using computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems have experienced a CAD outage that impacted response times, including over a third (35%) who experience CAD outages six to 10 times per year.
  • Seventy-five percent of first responders reported that inefficient IT systems cause outages, delays and other malfunctions. This is an increase of 8% over a similar survey last year. Seconds matter in emergency response and can impact lifesaving services for those in need.

Public safety professionals call for enhanced security standards to combat cyberattacks, IT outages and malfunctions.

  • First responders also lay out solutions for the cybersecurity, disaster recovery and dispatch outage concerns and problems they report, including their top three: more accurate reporting (52%), increased efficiency (51%) and increased data security (51%), all of which are easily attainable with modern cloud-native systems.
  • A near-total majority (93%) believe the general public would feel better if their local public safety agencies were required to adhere to federal cybersecurity standards, like FedRAMP, which mandates a premier and standardized approach to security and risk assessment for cloud technologies.
  • First responders and the general public agree on this issue, as nearly 80% of general population respondents expressed support for local adoption of federal law-enforcement technology standards in a separate survey.

The Mark43 2024 U.S. Public Safety Trends report

Using the expertise of emergency responders collected through the survey, insight from Mark43 customers, and input from leading luminaries in law enforcement, the Mark43 2024 U.S. Public Safety Trends report identifies the below emerging six trends that will impact public safety in 2024 and beyond. You can find the full report here.

  1. Artificial Intelligence is here to stay
  2. Modern technology is a solution to the recruitment and retention crisis
  3. Technology systems must be resilient and secure
  4. Mobility is not the future, it’s the now
  5. Breaking data out of silos is critical for facilitating community trust and multi-agency coordination
  6. Gun violence still requires a relentless focus and modern technology is a critical component

“As we approach 2024, first responders expect public safety agencies to use modern technology solutions that are resilient and reliable so they can focus on keeping their communities safe,” Polega said. “In 2024, we will see leading public safety agencies prioritize security and resilience to support critical decision-making, better allocate resources, and ultimately, serve their communities even more effectively.”

Survey methodology

A national online survey of 349 first responders was conducted by Propeller Insights between October 3 and October 18, 2023. Respondents opted into an online database; from there, they were targeted based on demographics. To further confirm qualifications, respondents were asked to verify their information in the survey itself with self-identifying qualifications. The maximum margin of sampling error was +/- 5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

About Mark43

Mark43 is the leading cloud-native public safety technology company. By delivering a modern, intuitive and mobile-first records management system, computer-aided dispatch and analytics platform, Mark43 empowers governments and their communities to improve the safety and quality of life for all. Working with more than 200 local, state and federal public safety agencies, Mark43 is transforming how first responders use technology to respond, engage and serve the community. Mark43 provides the tools, resources, expertise, and security foundation that public safety needs today, tomorrow, and beyond. For more information or to request a demo, visit