Last month, the U.S. Department of Treasury released the final rules for states, counties, and municipalities to spend their funds awarded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). After a couple weeks of monitoring state and local government’s reaction to the final guidance, there seems to be a clear message: flexibility, flexibility, flexibility.
This is an impactful message coming from the Biden administration, especially for first responders, who saw unprecedented levels of need in communities during the heights of the pandemic. As many have noted, the pandemic pulled back the curtain on funding issues for our emergency responders. However, ARPA has given many first responders an amazing opportunity to not only recuperate these lost funds but have a great opportunity to enhance the critical infrastructure needed to be able to respond to emergencies and save lives in the most efficient and effective manner possible. In this blog, I will highlight three types of innovations first responders have been able to utilize ARPA funds to accomplish, and how Rave can help your community accomplish these innovative programs with ARPA funding.
ARPA Spending Trends in Public Safety
The National League of Cities developed a platform to track how communities across the country are spending ARPA monies. In analyzing those entries and taking into account our conversations at Rave with public safety stakeholders, here are the most common and recommended uses of spending for ARPA monies for first response enhancements.
1. Reducing Response Times, Improvements to Incident Coordination, and Exchange of Information
Responding to emergencies requires an immense amount of coordination among dispatchers and responders. This element is complicated with the nearing rollout of 988, the new national mental health hotline, with new teams and dispatchers added into the first response continuum. To tackle this issue, many communities have looked to ensure their communication tools are able to keep up with the enhanced demand. Tools that are being purchased with ARPA funding include: text to 911 capabilities, additional CAD systems, hiring additional public safety personnel, and incident information sharing capabilities.
2. Post Incident Debrief and Tracking Information Over Time
After an emergency incident takes place, it is imperative that all public safety entities involved can look over their actions and communications to know what to do better in the next emergency. These considerations need to be available not only in the 911 space, but also the soon to be nationally established 988 space. In getting to this goal, first responders will have real time tracking, backend tracking, and data analytic systems to see how each individual and entity responded to a specific situation. With ARPA spending data available, we see dozens of departments investing more into this facet of emergency response measures. With the increase of violent crime marking 2022, municipalities are more likely to invest more into those operations as time goes forward.
3. Creation of Critical Response Teams
More of a product of the emphasis of addressing the increasing mental health crisis in this country, specialized teams made of psychologists, counselors, and social workers are the best to respond to these serious emergent situations. Through our search of the data, over 2 dozen communities have committed funding to the creation of these teams as a part of their 911 response teams. Other communities have created the same teams, but only connected to the human services department of that municipality or county. Either way, having these teams have proven critical to the emergency response ecosystem and public safety officials are seeking to adapt and create new solutions to these increasingly emergent situations affecting communities across the country.
ARPA Spending on Rave Solutions
These are crucial investments not only for our first responders to do the best job they can, but for the welfare of our communities across the country. At Rave, we are here to support projects that our nation’s first responders are looking to accomplish in their pursuit to keep the public safe. Through our research and the above innovations in mind, all Rave products are eligible for ARPA fund utilization. Below, I break down some of the eligible categories of spending and how we at Rave can help communities enhance their emergency services.
- Administrative and Governmental Services
One of the quickest services to be taken down due to the pandemic’s quick and deep impact were those of ordinary (but extremely needed) governmental services. With these services suspended, many communities were unable to effectively communicate to their communities about changes in service and emergent messaging regarding health and safety. Having seen this impact early and persist through time, federal legislators recognized that ARPA needed to supplement local funding to bring these services back and better than before.
Rave is being used across the country every day as a means of communication between government officials/agencies and the public at large. The context of these messages range in use from emergency notifications such as AMBER alerts, road accident notifications, weather alerts, utility failures, general service updates, and much more. Rave is here to help communities make communication with constituents as easy and effective as possible.
- Public Health
The pandemic served to exacerbate all lapses of public health, including all forms of communication procedures. On the most mass scale, we saw that a lack in enacting quality communications strategies directly result in endangering programs and general messaging that were critical to overcoming the initial and the most brutal stages of the pandemic. In recognizing this, legislators saw the need to boost community’s capabilities to enhance the public health indicators. Not many funding programs, on the state nor federal level, have focused specifically on this element of emergency response in previous years. Out of all of funding categories within ARPA, this is one of the most popular investment type that communities are taking advantage of.
All of Rave’s products look toward enhancing the public sector’s service abilities in each and every service we can provide to communities across the country. Through our approach, communities can send out critical information quickly and through multiple channels to ensure the largest cast of outreach as possible. Through our products, we created tools in order for our communities to recover and thrive from the pandemic, local officials, emergency managers, 9-1-1 teams, public safety, and health officials need the following: mitigate community risk for those most vulnerable, prepare your community for crisis communications before a catastrophe strikes, respond to an emergency by providing accurate guidance internally and externally, and recover from an event by collecting and sharing information.
- Services to Disproportionately Impacted Communities
As APRA has been more fleshed out by legislators, the definition of “disproportionately impacted communities” has expanded exponentially. With the newest guidance, it seems the Treasury Department states that any community with high COVID case rates qualifies for any project funding that would reduce cases and/or improve the general public health of those areas. This seems to be a popular category of funding that cities and counties are taking advantage of for a variety of purposes from infrastructure to improved community communications to social service staffing to office supplies/upgrades.
The crux of Rave’s products hinge on bettering communications across communities, especially in those communities that are underrepresented. We have prioritized working with communities with a variety of physical and mental disabilities. Access to critical information can be lifesaving, and all individuals should not have to struggle to prepare and respond in high stress situations. Rave products are prided upon the easy to use interface that have been proven unmatched in reliable messaging to millions ever year. We work with customers to ensure communities build trust with us and understand that we are there to partner with them to promote community safety and resiliency.
Learn more about the ARPA categories of spending from the U.S. Department of Treasury and if you have questions on how Rave can help your community to best utilize ARPA funding to implement these types of innovations, schedule a demo today.