As we explore the history of Computer-Aided Dispatch, it’s worth considering the development of computers themselves. Once behemoths that did little but took up entire rooms, modern computers changed with the advent of the modern microcomputer in the 1970s. As personal computers began to find their way into the homes of everyday people, computers became more and more important to the business and municipal world. They also became vital to first response.

Computers were first used in emergency response to help plan faster, more efficient emergency response routes, as outlined by Kenneth Morgan in a 2003 paper on the history of Computer-Aided Dispatch. Law enforcement was faster to adopt computer technology than was fire response, but both embraced it as it became less expensive, more available, and more capable. At the same time, better protocols for dispatchers were needed. As EMS1 reports, “In 1988, IAED, an organization to help dispatchers and first responders improve patient care, was formed.”

Early Computer-Aided Dispatch programs were developed in the 1960s, but didn’t catch on until adopted by law enforcement in the later 1990s. Protocols for those who are hard of hearing were developed for 911 call centers around that same time, as were Amber Alerts. Without computers and wireless phones, none of this would have been possible. Without the continued development of Computer-Aided Dispatch, it could not have reached as far as it has today.

Twenty years ago, Kenneth Morgan had this to say about the burgeoning field of Computer-Aided Dispatch: “Modern CAD is incredibly complex. It is not limited to alarm processing, as it performs a variety of functions. It will track availability, predict service needs, recommend a change of unit location to insure reduced response times, transfer data for reporting and a variety of other functions. These statistical functions traditionally required several people many hours to accomplish.”

This, of course, is the crux of Computer-Aided Dispatch. Such systems reduce the number of people required to provide information to a greater number of recipients, while increasing the information provided and reducing the response time. This reduced response time is applied to all personnel using and moving through the system. More people going where they are needed in less time while better prepared for what they’ll find when they get there, coupled to better documentation and record keeping (including automated security and privacy protocols)… this is Computer-Aided Dispatch, and it’s why this software and this methodology has become indispensable to public safety.

In part 4 of this series, we’ll wrap up our thoughts on the history of Computer-Aided Dispatch while also considering what lies ahead. Caliber Public Safety is immensely proud of the Computer-Aided Dispatch, Mobile, Records Management, and other public safety software solutions it produces, many examples of which can be found on the phones, tablets, and terminals of first responders across the country. As we look to the future, we will continue to develop that increasingly complex, critical technology to support communities throughout the nation.