All software programs are reliant on input quality to perform with peak efficiency. Computer-aided dispatching (CAD) systems are no different. Many of the standard features and some of the more advanced abilities of CAD are well known to its most common users. However, even those who are familiar with CAD’s benefits, may not be getting the most out of their system. Often, that means ensuring the right information going into CAD, so the best information is accessible when it is needed most. The following examples provide further insight.
Computer Aided Dispatching and the Fire Service
When the alarm comes into the station house, CAD, when properly supplied with important data, has already been working behind the scenes and can be ready to provide valuable information to those responding to the fire. Take, for instance, a report of a structure fire at a two-acre industrial complex. Using mobile technology as part of the CAD system, firefighters can determine hydrant locations and establish their plan for arrival and vehicle placement.
Through some preplanned information gathering, any known hazardous materials at the scene of the fire can be evaluated and taken into consideration as firefighting efforts are organized. Through the onboard CAD interface, command personnel can identify the proper method for dealing with each of the hazardous materials. Thanks to technology, first responders no longer have to wait to get to a scene to determine what chemicals or other materials may be there. With this information in the CAD system, it can aid in determining the need for additional personnel or specialty equipment.
When part of an overall fire prevention plan, previously obtained floorplans, and area schematics can also be accessed through CAD to help firefighters. Standpipes and other equipment on the scene are easily put into the operations plan as personnel are en route. Primary and alternative entrances, both for individual buildings and multiple structure complexes, can be evaluated to select apparatus placement. Knowing where to stage a ladder truck, pumper, tanker, heavy rescue, or other vehicles can play a key role in scene management.
How CAD Assists in a Law Enforcement Response
The benefits of dispatch software is being able to access floorplans through CAD’s mobile technology is not limited to the fire service. Law enforcement officers responding to an unfamiliar building or area can also find this information highly advantageous. For example, a 911 caller reports a suspicious person on a school campus. All the caller was able to say was the subject was near the cafeteria, before the line disconnected. Of course, 911 dispatchers will be attempting to call and reach someone at the school, but the person answering may not have any additional information. Meanwhile, officers are on the way and may not be familiar with all areas of the campus. Being able to access a labeled map of the school through CAD allows for a strategic approach. Many agencies find the summer months are a great time to update their CAD systems with the latest information about the schools in their jurisdiction.
In addition to maps and floorplans, some agencies partner with their school districts and are permitted access to security cameras. The ability for dispatchers and responding officers to get real-time video of an emergency on a campus is a tactical game-changer. Depending on the scope of the incident, video may be utilized at the command post and by specialty units such as the SWAT team or aviation.
Even without live video, CAD can contain photos of hallways, classrooms, gyms, and any area of a campus. Similar to and in conjunction with the accessible floorplan, these photos can add another level of operational efficiency to the law enforcement response. Of course, the benefits of maps, photos, and videos can be used for other locations as well such as shopping centers, hospitals, sports complexes, concert venues, and nearly anywhere an emergency response is likely.
Private Security’s Use of Computer Aided Dispatching Enhances Customer Service
While many aspects of CAD are shared between public safety and private security, it is important to note the ability to customize its use as needed. Private security is its own industry and while safety is a shared goal, it deserves the benefits of CAD to serve its unique function. Being able to customize call types for the security provider means modern CAD systems do not have to be a one size fits all tool. Terms and language used in law enforcement, fire departments, security companies, or EMS incidents may not be the same as those in private security. Being able to have a system tailored to the industry means getting the full use of high-quality CAD software without sacrificing internal operations.
Whether security is being provided for a single building, a large complex, an entire neighborhood, or a special event, the benefits of CAD are vast. Daily operations such as security officer check-ins can include special notes or instructions as well as provide a detailed activity log. Updated gate, alarm, and other access codes are maintained as part of the security CAD system and are available to both dispatchers and units in the field. This reduces unnecessary time delays in both urgent responses and routine patrol activities.
Through CAD’s communication features, supervisors, officers, and dispatchers can exchange information efficiently and effectively. The fully customizable chat function allows messages to be sent between individuals, designated groups, or all personnel. Photos and videos can also be exchanged through the CAD system making accurate information exchange a seamless process while cataloging all data for later use.
Regardless of the industry, computer aided dispatching software can improve the efficiency of nearly any organization with a responsive mobile workforce. CAD works to enhance safety, boost productivity, and increase accountability.