A lot has changed in the world of public safety and emergency response in the last several decades. The pace of that change has increased with each successive year, too. Technology, relatively slow to innovate in the 1960s and 1970s, saw the birth of several devices whose presence would start to be felt in every aspect of the modern world. The cell phone and the microcomputer, together, would change modern society as we know it, just as they helped transform emergency response. This, in turn, would lead to the Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) software that companies like Caliber Public Safety create. But how did we get here from there?

As outlined by EMS1, the cellphone was one of these. Kenneth Morgan, writing on Computer-Aided Dispatch technology for the University of Nevada in 2003, also highlights the invention of the microcomputer in the 1970s.

Specifically, Motorola employee Martin Cooper made the first cellphone call in 1973. The development and proliferation of cellphone technology was as attributable to the technology as it was to bureaucracy. In the late 1960s, the FCC began to reconsider the number of frequencies it was willing to allocate to such technology. As detailed in ThoughtCo,

By 1977, AT&T and Bell Labs had constructed a prototype cellular system. A year later, public trials of the new system were held in Chicago with over 2,000 customers. In 1979, in a separate venture, the first commercial cellular telephone system began operation in Tokyo. In 1981, Motorola and American Radio telephone started a second U.S. cellular radiotelephone system test in the Washington/Baltimore area. And by 1982, the slow-moving FCC finally authorized commercial cellular service for the USA.

Despite the incredible demand, it took cellular phone service many years to become commercially available in the United States. Consumer demand would soon outstrip the 1982 system standards and by 1987, cellular telephone subscribers exceeded one million with the airways [were] becoming more and more crowded.

There are basically three ways of improving services. Regulators can increase frequencies allocation, existing cells can be split and the technology can be improved. The FCC did not want to hand out any more bandwidth and building or splitting cells would have been expensive as well as add bulk to the network. So to stimulate the growth of new technology, the FCC declared in 1987 that cellular licensees could employ alternative cellular technologies in the 800 MHz band. With that, the cellular industry began to research new transmission technology as an alternative.

The explosion of cell phone and modern wireless phone technology is what has facilitated Computer-Aided Dispatch, in large part. Only so much can be done by radio. Wireless networks and wireless data transfer changed everything, creating the modern world of Computer-Aided Dispatch and making it possible to get first responders where they need to go faster and with more complete information once they get on-site.

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll explore the expansion of modern technology, and its impact on Computer-Aided Dispatch, a little more deeply.