While there are a number of criteria that would identify computer-aided dispatching software as beneficial to an organization, three main categories stand out among service provider leaders—reliability, adaptability, and versatility. Whether public safety, transportation, security, utility, delivery, or any operation requiring communication with personnel in the field, dispatching software that satisfies these three essential components is consistently sought by professional service providers.
Dispatching software must be able to perform the functions for which it is designed, accurately, consistently, and expediently. For example, when firefighters are en route to a scene, their ability to communicate with both the dispatch center and the records management system through mobile technology is vital. Obtaining the accurate location of hydrants or other water sources can save valuable time in responding and determining proper vehicle placement. Additionally, the ability to use dispatching software to locate the needed information quickly can mean the difference between life and death.
Within its need for reliability, the requirement of dispatching software to be able to function with uniform precision cannot be compromised. The need for consistency in operation is a quality required by users regardless of the service they provide. For instance, a security company that provides dignitary protection will likely utilize a command post or security dispatch operation center as part of their duties. As such, the need to exchange tactical and strategic information such as potential threats, traffic issues, and last-minute changes must reach the entire protection team without delay.
Finally, the reliability component fulfills a logical requirement of a desirable dispatching software system. Among others, paramedics must be able to count on their medical equipment to be reliable; taxi companies must have dependable vehicles to conduct business, and security providers must trust their communication system to summon help if needed. Each of these occupations, and many others, consider the reliability of their vital equipment to be paramount. Similarly, they justifiably expect and deserve the same level of confidence in their dispatching software.
Technology is in a near-constant state of evolution. Quality modern dispatching software must be able to adapt to new features and remain compatible with a variety of interoperable programs. For example, nearly every law enforcement agency in the United States uses the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), a database containing vital crime and criminal justice information. NCIC has been in use since 1967 and is now compatible with nearly any dispatching software system. However, it is important to recognize NCIC itself is not part of any singular dispatching software provider but is essentially a necessary add-on to part an agency’s overall system.
The example of NCIC being compatible with multiple systems is made here to demonstrate the importance of interoperability. Newer systems from both governmental organizations and the private sector are routinely introducing new and innovative programs to improve public safety productivity. It is vital that state-of-the-art dispatching software have the ability to integrate these programs and allow for the expansion of technology.
The desire of adaptability in dispatching software is, of course, not limited to public safety organizations. For instance, a residential security company may have an advanced system that provides fully functioning integration between its dispatching software, records management system, and mobile devices. The system’s ability to expand on that functionality with new technologies such as human resources files, finance/payroll programs, or a forensic database stands as an example of the importance of an adaptable system.
Once considered to be primarily used in public safety, computer-aided dispatching software has evolved with a proven track record and can be advantageous for nearly any organization with personnel in the field. Taxi and similar shuttle transportation services have found the benefits of dispatching software to improve customer service, increase driver safety, and enhance overall productivity. The coordination of timely passenger pickup combined with the use of integrated mapping systems helps transportation companies work within budget limitations without compromising quality service. Built-in GPS tracks driver routes in real-time and maintains a watchful eye to ensure the safety of those in the field.
Private security providers have also found benefits in a versatile dispatching software system. The vital function of guard tours can be effectively managed through dispatching software. Personnel in the security operation center can easily verify tours in progress and help ensure officer safety. Special instructions related to a particular post on the tour can be added to the dispatching software to ensure both the officer and the dispatcher are aware of any unique circumstances. Additionally, using a mobile device operating in conjunction with dispatching software, officers can report unusual occurrences, include photos, and provide details of an event. All of this information can be immediately available to other personnel, including supervisors, dispatchers, and other officers. Further, with available customization, reports can be sent to upper management and clients as needed.
Perhaps one of the most innovative features of versatile dispatching software is its ability to be used by multiple organizations. The AgencyLink feature allows computer-aided dispatching software to be connected to different agencies to aid in communication and event management. For example, a police department can use the AgencyLink system to share real-time data, including calls for service or other requests, with a neighboring agency brought in to assist with a large-scale incident. Access remains under the control of the host organization and is limited to necessary information for a designated period.
When dispatching software is able to combine the three attributes discussed here; reliability, adaptability, and versatility, its benefits become clear. However, the criterion that solidifies the definition of good CAD software is the confidence its users have in their ability to perform their job without worrying about its functionality. When a system satisfies the three main goals of being reliable, adaptable, and versatile, the user’s approval naturally falls into place.