There's not a lot of experience yet in building first responder multimedia systems, but some broad points can be made:
* Don't plan to deploy a generic system and then fit users to it. Take time to define the intended users and then fit the system to their needs.
* Develop a proof of concept before a full deployment. Early acceptance of mobile multimedia applications by first responder communities is essential — and may largely depend on how well the applications handle first responders' workflow.
* Simultaneously choose the applications and the devices they will run on. Some devices or applications will be better suited to some users than others. Because many of these devices are constrained in terms of memory, processor power or displays, fitting applications to unsuitable devices and vice versa would be detrimental.
* Don't assume all applications need a full-time wireless connection. In many cases, only occasional connectivity may be required and, indeed, desired.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.