Modern public safety dispatch professionals such as 911 dispatchers, firefighters, law enforcement, security guard, and emergency medical services (EMS) are the heartbeat of any organization. When equipped with state-of-the-art computer-aided dispatch software, these professionals can better serve the public and first responders in the field. Meant to complement the irreplaceable human factor, computer aided dispatch software works in conjunction with the 911 call takers and public safety dispatch staff.
Through the use of integrated mapping, computer-aided dispatch software, goes to work as soon as a call is received. The location of a caller is displayed along with other vital information that allows the dispatcher and software system to work in harmony to get help where it is needed. From assigning units based on location or specialty to providing information about alerts associated with a person or location, computer aided dispatch software plays a key role in public safety.
When combined as part of a total data management plan, this software adds a new level of efficiency and effectiveness to an agency’s ability to serve the public. An organization’s records management system and mobile technology can be integrated with computer aided dispatch software and help avoid duplicate entry, improve data retrieval, and enhance the quality of incident reports.
How a Call for Service Gets Started with Computer Aided Dispatch Software
Traditionally, a call to 911 is the most common manner in which public safety dispatchers learn of an emergency. Computer aided dispatch software and police dispatch software auto-populates as much of the information as possible, freeing the dispatcher to ask the caller important questions about his or her situation. While many emergency 911 operators are trained to verbally verify pertinent information, reducing manual data entry also reduces the chances of human error.
Often a call for service comes in through an agency’s non-emergency number or an online reporting system. These usually occur when one needs to report an incident that has happened in the past and is not an in-progress event. This may include a situation in which one wakes to find their car had been burglarized sometime during the night or when one discovers they have been the victim of a financial crime such as credit card fraud. Computer aided dispatch software is at work behind the scenes for these types of calls as well. Necessary information is provided to the initial report taker, who will add more facts about the case until it reaches a detective for further investigation.
Mobile technology is a key part of 21st-century computer aided dispatching. Field units have the ability to self-dispatch to a call for service. This can happen in several ways and ultimately means the officer, the dispatcher, and other on-duty units see the same information at the same time. For instance, an officer can use her laptop or another mobile device to report she is conducting an area check at a particular location. Another officer may see a call for service pending in his zone as he wraps up a traffic stop. Without tying up the radio or requiring a dispatcher to enter his change of status, the officer can clear his traffic stop and assign himself to the pending call directly from his mobile device. All of these actions and more are tied directly to the use of computer aided dispatch software.
Through the use of the AgencyLink system, information from partner organizations can be entered directly into an agency’s computer aided dispatching software. Access is granted and completely controlled by the AgencyLink account holder. Another agency can request information and track the status of their request from the web-based dashboard. Historical data is also available to help in records keeping and avoid duplication of services. When a request is entered through AgencyLink, the errors which can occur during a phone call are greatly reduced. The requesting agency enters exactly what they need, and it becomes part of the host agency’s event in their computer aided dispatching system.
How Computer Aided Dispatching Directly Benefits Units in The Field
As previously mentioned, the ability of an officer in the field to use the self-dispatching feature has implications for both officer safety and productivity. When a field unit uses mobile technology to get information about a call for service or change their status, the 911 dispatchers can focus on priority matters happening in the emergency communications center. Further, by reducing the traffic on the traditional two-way radio system, it is free for emergency transmissions. When an officer needs back-up, he does not want to wait for the radio to be available because another unit is asking for routine information.
Another important aspect of officer safety is situational awareness. While this term can vary greatly, it can often be as simple as having instant access to current, reliable information. The use of computer aided dispatching software can get electronic bulletins to officers in the field as soon as they are available. Gone are the days of the patrol sergeant having to pass out printed flyers at the shift briefing, only to be lost or put in a pile of dozens of other papers in an officer’s front seat. Instead, situational awareness bulletins relating to wanted or dangerous subjects are available at any time and maintained in an accessible and organized fashion.
Computer aided dispatching software again proves its value to field personnel through its activity reporting capabilities. Individual officers can access their daily log of activities and determine if any follow-up action is required or if valuable information needs to be passed to the next shift. Patrol supervisors can also find benefit in the software’s activity logs by evaluating productivity and determining zone/precinct assignment needs. Finally, agency administrators and policymakers will appreciate the ability to use the activity logs produced by computer-aided dispatching software in assessing manpower and budgetary needs.