The Constant Learner: APCO Thoughts

Firstly, thanks to everyone who stopped by the booth and said “Hi”. ?We enjoy talking to you all and associating names with faces. ?One of the major takeaways for me was the fact that we could be improving communcation between first responders and dispatchers. ?We could open new lines of communcation and responsiveness by working to integrate with different CAD systems, and that it may be worthwhile for us to explore this avenue.

I went and spoke with many CAD vendors and made some contacts, but before we do anything I think it would be helpful to ask some questions to see where we should focus our efforts.

When we talk of CAD integration, what would you consider essential components?

What information can Active911 provide to dispatchers that they would make their lives easier? What would be helpful? ?Basic positions, responses and possibly duty status?

From what I saw on display at the show, PSAPs have a wealth of information at their fingertips. ?What information could we take from a CAD that would be helpful to first responders? ?What are things you wish you had available, but maybe need to ask dispatch for?


14 thoughts on “The Constant Learner: APCO Thoughts

  1. A lot of they key things have been done, the latest update allowing for phone numbers to be touched and dialed is big, the dispatchers being able to see our locations weather you have touched a responce button or not, with text to 911 Coming into play, being able to send the photos that 911 texters send to the comm centers gives responders a heads up about the scene and that could be invaluable to a responder. A big item I have found is that the parsers are very touchy, any change what so ever in the format of how a dispatcher enters data in the cad results in a page from active911 that is jumbled. I don’t know much about the process that happen on your end, but it’s proven very difficult for me to get very dispatcher to cad exactly the same, some dispatchers like to use spicific fields in the cad that others don’t use.

    The responce I’m getting from the comm centers I’m connected with all around northern ky is responders love active911 dispatchers are annoyed by it. It may just be the fact that it’s still new and their not use to it yet. I’ll ask around and see what responses I get from other telecommunicators and let you guys know

  2. I believe starting out with allowing dispatch centers the ability to collect information from the users device via the response buttons would be great. Also allowing the dispatch center to see your location would allow them to dispatch the closest unit to an incident.

  3. A two way response status of units. Someone goes enroute over the air, having that reflected in the CAD program and sent too the Active911 app would be excellent. Someone goes enroute on the Active911 application and notifying the dispatch console of the same. I’m not trying to replace the radio, but I’m trying to make it free for critical communication. Having multiple units go enroute at the same time is a quite a bit of traffic.

  4. We still need better information from dispatch. I want GIS integration from CAD. I need active911 to stop using Google Maps and start using our GIS data for mapping. And let the status buttons tie back into CAD.

  5. I would like to see active 911 sync live time with CAD reports. So on the app you can see call time, in service times, etc. Also, being able for dispatch to have critical alerts sent to active 911 to make sure we don’t walk into a dangerous situation without the police or so we have garage codes and other information listed as alerts in CAD for certain address.

  6. Since I started using Active911 in my county almost a year ago, it has spread to almost all of our county fire departments, including our one full time career department. The nice thing for us was the fact that Dispatch (where I also work) was already set up to use Active911 through the CAD system’s internal messaging system. I programmed it to send the incident info out as soon as a unit was marked as “dispatched” on an incident (something the dispatchers were already doing or supposed to be doing). The biggest challenge I’ve had is getting the other dispatchers to understand the benefits not only for the responders but to them as well. I have Webview up on a screen on the wall but only night shift (my shift) uses it regularly to see where units are and their status.

    I’m also having a hard time getting the dispatch director to get on board with the program and at least make an effort to see that the dispatchers enter calls into CAD correctly and timely and mark the units as dispatched as soon as possible. Most of the time it’s not an issue but on very busy days you are lucky to get anything.

    As far as CAD integration, I think it would be a neat feature and would definitely benefit the dispatchers and responders if they could see which units are en route and on scene from their phone especially if they don’t have a radio at the time (something we run into from the volunteer side quite often). I also agree with Chad’s comment – it would be nice to have the ability to use our own GIS information instead of relying on Google Maps to know where the call is. That’s something else that has been a big issue for my county. If the dispatcher doesn’t enter the call address just right (validated address), Google doesn’t understand it and therefore won’t map it.

  7. Two of our challenges in the multi-station volunteer community are knowing who is available in each district and what apparatus is out of service for maintenance or repairs. A department calendar to notify personnel of upcoming events, training, meetings, etc. would be nice. Another challenge is writing the report after the fact. If CAD could push more data to the report tab it would make it easier for personnel to get the response data needed to write a good report. Another nice feature would be an integration with one of the radio rebroadcast apps so you can listen in to your radio frequency.

  8. Having the response buttons tied to the CAD in real time would be a huge benefit and reduce a lot of radio traffic. It also would allow for more accurate response time information and free up the dispatcher from having to update your status and time and allow them to take another call or start additional equipment… If this becomes possible, could you make it so the app makes a sound when an apparatus that is assigned to the run marks en route or on scene? Would you be able to expand to have more than the current 5 button selections?
    As far as other options, is there a way to have an option to keep mapping the device if the app isn’t open, so if they’re utilizing another app for response information you could still see their location?
    Is there a way to see the 911 callers location when exported through CAD? Very helpful for interstates, biking/walking trails, water responses etc. to see exactly where the caller is? And have it update at a specific time.

  9. As a Regional Dispatch center with several agencies using it, we would like a view all screen- Active911 can display the towns that are located in our county so we can have a total view of all agencies operating int he county at any given time. It is a pain to have each agency add us to their systems.

  10. Google Maps is horrible. Numerous addresses pop up in the wrong town or county. We have tried numerous solutions and can only contribute to the google maps even by reading these posts. Allow the GIS data from CAD!

  11. Something as simple as two way messaging from crew to crew, vehicle to vehicle or field user to communications staff would be gratefully beneficial. I personally do not see a need to integrate Active 911 in to the CAD world directly. Once you use the word “integration” you now are instantly talking about money. I do not see (personally) many 9-1-1 centers spending the thousands of dollars upgrade the CAD to allow for such integration. Nothing comes cheep once CAD vendors get involved!

  12. If users wanted unit status and location data to travel backward from Active911 to CAD, they’d be better served by using the CAD vendor’s own mobile app. I believe this app fills a certain niche as a less-expensive, one-way interface from CAD to mobile users. We cannot expect dispatchers, who have too many screens to watch already, to monitor another unit status screen.

  13. I’m a little late to the party here, but like others have mentioned I would like to see Active 911 create essentially an”Dispatch web view” so that a dispatch center that dispatches for multiple agencies can see all resources on one screen. I would also like to see something set up that would give users the option to be tracked/mapped at all times (example: a volunteer wouldn’t be tracked at all times but an actual piece of apparatus would so that we could dispatch the closest appropriate resource)

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