The private sector is often considered a faster technology adopter than the public sector. However, recent trends are showing that the public sector pick up and adoption for Google Glass might be outpacing all the business and consumer uses of the technology.
So why, exactly, is Glass picking up for the public sector and how are people using it?
The case for public sector usage
Eric Sun says, “Until Google Glass becomes discreetly covert, it won’t have widespread adoption in the private sector. However, the public sector is starting to try out wearables, similar to how they’ve embraced mobile phones and tablets in their operations.” Eric should know: his team builtPublic Eye, which integrates with smartphones and wearables (including Glass) to help public safety teams coordinate more effectively. The app lets everyone from police and fire chiefs, first responders, medical staff, and volunteers coordinate with real-time instruction from command as the incident unfolds.
Police and Fire Department
One case that made headlines earlier this year was a firefighter who developed an app that would let him and his team use it for everything from notifying firefighters of a new fire and directing them to the scene, to recording video of the fire once at the scene so that it can be dissected in fire investigations down the line.
Police departments around the world are getting use out of Glass as well. Officers in Dubai started testing it in May, using it for capturing and uploading videos of traffic violators and identifying wanted cars based on license plates.
Departments in the US are adopting it too, with Byron, Georgia being the first department in the US to receive Glass for testing purposes, and the NYPD starting testing it earlier this year.
Glass could be useful both in tense situations or other situations where the officer might need instructions, and in accountability.
Last year when U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that aspects of the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” tactics were unconstitutional, she suggested that officers wear cameras as a way of monitoring their behavior while on patrol, and Glass can definitely do that. Here in Austin, the police department is considering adding similar devices to uniforms.
Google Glass in Education
Google Glass also has practical uses in education. Glass can be a great form of assistive technology for students with disabilities. Matthew Newton, an elementary school teacher and early adopter of Glass, has been testing out using Glass in the classroom with students since 2013. For the students with dexterity challenges (who would definitely have problems with iPads), Glass is especially useful since it’s voice-activated.
Glass is also being adopted in some of the industries were public and private sector meet, like healthcare.
Pristine, an Austin-based startup, exists in that sphere. Their EyeSight communication platform lets clinicians and EMTs get the instruction and diagnosis they need from doctors in real-time, making healthcare more efficient.
It’s easy to see how it could come in handy when training medical students by recording footage of procedures or patient-doctor interactions for review and critique, or allowing for on-the-job research via verbal commands without touch—important when sanitation is a top concern (and the doctor or student probably has their hands full treating the patient, anyways).
The utility of Google Glass seems to exceed any other alternative for many public sectors. Police, firefighters, teachers, and nurses are all becoming strong, practical use cases for the technology. Perhaps our familiarity with the technology will originate with those in these roles of service. As these technologies enable others to protect, educate and serve us, then perhaps the technology will become more familiar and common outside of this public setting.