Computer-aided dispatching (CAD) software provides a litany of advantages to public safety organizations. Equally important, an agency’s records management system (RMS) offers a host of benefits to both internal and external stakeholders. While the two systems can function independently, utilizing public safety software that combines CAD and RMS will increase productivity, communication, and service.
Conducting entries into multiple systems is both antiquated and counterproductive. Acquiring data by researching both a CAD program and an RMS can be similarly time-consuming and cause a delay in performance. 10-8 Systems can offer solutions that combine the real-time data management of CAD and historical information from an RMS.
CAD Benefits from RMS
No matter the type of agency, computer-aided dispatch software has demonstrated the ability to improve the service an organization provides. Law Enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical services (EMS), and private security have all benefited from CAD technology. Part of that benefit is observed through the information an agency gains for its record-keeping purposes. When CAD software can easily exchange information with a records management system, those in the field and the dispatch center realize the benefits. This exchange of information is most productive when the two systems, CAD and RMS, use a single software platform.
Records management systems, by their nature, contain details relating to previous incidents and encounters with a variety of subjects. Computer-aided dispatching serves the immediate need of gathering information that assists with response protocols. The following examples demonstrate some of the benefits of integrating these two systems:
- In this example case, a 911 dispatcher receives a call about a subject causing a disturbance. The caller provides the suspect’s name and the address of the incident. Utilizing records management, the dispatcher quickly obtains important historical data about the subject and location. The information reveals the subject has a violent history with law enforcement and there is a fence surrounding the home. These important facts can be relayed to officers through CAD’s mobile technology. This helps ensure all responding units receive the same information at the same time and can coordinate their arrival plan.
- The integration of both RMS and CAD softwares can save lives and improve public safety. For example during another incident, an 8-year-old boy is missing. Before the 911 call is even answered, the RMS has communicated with CAD to let the dispatcher know there is an alert on the address. The missing child is autistic, non-verbal, and has a history of hiding. More information about previous calls for service may help officers locate the child. Additionally, suggestions about how best to interact with him in a manner that will reduce the stress from uncertain situations can also be found in the CAD alert.
RMS Benefits from CAD
The value of a records management system is perhaps best demonstrated by how effectively it can store and retrieve information. After all, records are kept because the data may be needed in the future. While quantity can be important, the quality of an RMS is the true measure of its benefit. Regardless of the amount of data contained in RMS software, the ability to maintain it in an organized and readily available format is a key feature sought by any agency.
When an organization’s RMS and CAD utilize a common software program, the data management feature can gain volumes of important information. This dual-purpose software means the data from CAD is instantly cataloged, cross-referenced, and stored in the RMS. There is no need for additional programs or software to link the two systems. The following examples help illustrate the benefits when computer aided dispatching is a unified part of records management:
- An officer conducts a traffic stop, checks the license of the driver, issues a warning, and lets him go. Unbeknownst to the officer, about 30 minutes prior, the vehicle was involved in a bank robbery. When detectives got to the scene, they entered a few characters from the car’s license plate that were captured on the bank’s surveillance camera. Instantly, the information from the traffic stop was displayed, including the identity of the driver. Because the CAD and RMS systems were virtually acting as one, the data was entered in real-time and accessible to others using the system without delay.
- In this follow-up example, through the combined efforts of patrol officers and detectives, the bank robbery suspect from the previous case study was apprehended after a brief pursuit. If this scenario had unfolded on TV, it would be over at this point. However, the reality is, the entire incident needs to be thoroughly documented. The integrated CAD and RMS will have captured every detail of the response to the bank robbery, the traffic stop, and the apprehension of the suspect. Those responsible for documentation will have dispatch times, unit identifiers, personnel assignments, activity locations, suspect and vehicle information, CAD chat history, and more. Because the systems are combined, much of the needed data will auto-populate helping to get the reports completed and units back to the field. This is the reason why many law enforcement agencies are moving to CAD systems.
Additional advantages of a singular software solution to computer aided dispatch and records management systems include; automated shift logs, unit posting assignments, integrated mapping, activity details, and statistics reports. Ultimately, the use of combined software eliminates the loss of data when it transitions from one program to another. Regardless of how good a linking mechanism might be, having CAD and Police RMS as part of the same software system will always be superior.