How do communities determine where four-way stop signs or intersection lights get placed? Is your community currently impacted by opioid abuse as an epidemic?

Questions like these can often be answered through a fairly simple source; emergency response data.

Whether it’s a resource like a patient care report, an accident report or a fire incident report, data can be abstracted to identify a number of community needs based off various defined metrics.


Whether it’s a resource like a patient care report, an accident report or a fire incident report, data can be abstracted to identify a number of community needs based off various defined metrics. (Photo/USAF)
Whether it’s a resource like a patient care report, an accident report or a fire incident report, data can be abstracted to identify a number of community needs based off various defined metrics. (Photo/USAF)

Trending can give you that 35,000 foot overview of your community to analyze both its current status and its projected needs. By incorporating data into one large dashboard or plan, communities can combine public safety tracking metrics to identify a number of challenges and opportunities that they face.

Here are three things you can track with community data.

1. Naloxone use

Tracking EMS and other medical first responders’ use of naloxone, as well as law enforcement and civilian use, can help communities to see where they stand within the scope of the opioid abuse arena.

Are the numbers up, or on the decline? Have community programs made a positive impact to curve substance abuse problems, or are more social service resources needed to keep this crisis at bay?

2. Motor vehicle accidents

Are there any problem streets within your community that need heightened patrols due to increased vehicle speeds? Or, are there any intersections that are more prone to vehicle collisions because of increased traffic patterns, roadway distractions or other landmark factors?

Combining fire and EMS responses with police reports and dispatch records can help communities to get a big picture analysis of where efforts should be focused toward increasing roadway safety or even intersection re-design.

Whether people like them or not, there’s a reason that many communities have transitioned toward round-about (rotary) intersections and public safety data likely played a role in their installation.

3. Community staffing

The use of mutual aid can be a valuable tool in any emergency service field, but its use could also be a sign of a community’s need for increased staffing.

Increased daily staffing for fire engines, power-staffing for ambulances or police over-staffing for large community events can all be components of data tracking at the community level.

Can certain days or times be isolated to identify an increased staffing need, or has population growth sparked the need for increased staffing across the board because of new construction or a demographics shift within a certain area?

Data has traditionally been a four-letter-word that many administrators have shied away from. As we progress, however, into a needs-focused, right-sized and budget-conscious future, data – quite simply – can be gold.