For Immediate Release:
October 1, 1998
G 98 -72

Contact: Mary Hanley
(202) 482-4883

Karen Kirchgasser
(202) 482-7002

Report Looks At Use of Technology to Enhance Public Safety

Washington, DC - Vice President Gore today released a Commerce Department report discussing the many ways in which information technologies have enhanced public safety. The report, Safety Nets: Protecting Lives and Property in the Information Age, provides several examples of ways technology is being used by law enforcement officers to better protect public safety.

Vice President Gore released the report while announcing new funding from the Department of Justice for police departments nationwide for new equipment purchases and administrative hires to better serve America's communities. "I am proud to announce a new study by the Department of Commerce that shows new technology saves both time and money. Five minutes spent on a laptop computer, for example, allows an officer to save up to three hours he would have spent running back and forth to the station," Vice President Gore said.

The report, issued by the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), underscores the Clinton Administration's commitment to bring the benefits of information technology to the public safety sector. It is the third in a series of reports released by NTIA that track the impact of telecommunications and information technology on Americans. The reports are based on research from NTIA's Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP), which provides matching grants to non-profits that use new technology in innovative, yet practical, ways.

"New technologies are reinventing the way patients obtain medical treatments, how law enforcement officers protect our streets, and how communities share information," said Commerce Secretary William M. Daley. "At a time when public safety resources are scarce, these technologies are enhancing our public safety efforts."

Safety Nets describes how TIIAP grant recipients use computer technology to enable police departments to search each others' databases for leads on suspects. New technologies are also put to work to direct fire fighters to the scene of an emergency by the fastest route. Computerized mapping helps another grant recipient track authorized fires as well as wildfires to determine whether or not they will spread.

"In public safety professions, fast and accurate information is critical," said Larry Irving, assistant secretary of Commerce and Administrator of NTIA. "Police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and other public safety officers are using technology to not only save time, but to literally save lives and property."

The TIIAP program was initiated in 1994. Since its inception, it has awarded approximately $118 million in matching funds that has spurred over $300 million in total investments.

Today's report is part of NTIA's effort to share the lessons learned by its grant recipients. The report and additional information on TIIAP is available on NTIA's website at