We’ve all learned powerful lessons in the last few years, particularly where emergency response is concerned. During the pandemic, cloud and web-based Computer-Aided Dispatch technology allowed public safety personnel to work from home. Specifically, dispatchers were able to continue doing their work even though there was danger in gathering in person at 911 dispatch centers. According to TheBigRedGuide.com, “the trend toward working from home has accelerated. New technologies are now making it possible for 911 dispatchers to work from home, too, whether to ensure social distancing or to supplement operations during evolving emergencies.”
While the pandemic is largely over, it never truly went away, as we all still contend with COVID. This means that during flare-ups of this illness, or during the “next” pandemic (whatever it may be), the ability to decentralize 911 dispatch personnel through cloud and web-based Computer-Aided Dispatch could make the difference between keeping dispatch centers open and not being able to keep them staffed at all.
“The computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems offer web-based interfaces and mobile capabilities that enable public safety answering point (PSAP) operators to work from anywhere,” explains Larry Anderson. (Caliber Public Safety, for example, offers such services, including a web version of our Computer-Aided Dispatch software.) “Other technologies that are paving the way for dispatchers to work from home include the cloud, virtual private networks (VPNs), and faster data speeds.”
Anderson highlights what he calls an “innovative implementation” in Alexandria, Virginia, in which remote emergency dispatchers use laptops, smartphones, mobile hotspots, and routers to run Computer-Aided Dispatch. “[This enables] 911 dispatchers to take calls and handle CAD operations from their homes and remote locations.” Of course, as Anderson explains, the connection must be robust and reliable. Losses of connectivity could result in the loss of 911 dispatch.
“In addition to providing flexibility during a global pandemic, remote dispatchers can help departments augment their regularly scheduled staff members more quickly. Dispatchers who can work immediately from home are not delayed by the practicalities of getting to work. Staffing can be augmented immediately rather than several hours from now – an essential consideration during a developing emergency.”
The advantages of cloud and web-based Computer-Aided Dispatch are therefore clear on their face. While they do come with some caveats (such as the speed and reliability of the connection, not to mention the need for proper security measures to safeguard sensitive data), they represent distinct advantages during times of emergency or simply to meet staffing goals. This underscores the need to leverage these developing and improving technologies as, more and more, they become the rule rather than the exception.