The rapid development of computer technology, which occurs at an exponentially faster pace with each passing year, is behind the dominance of Computer-Aided Dispatch. Where once such networks, coupled with wireless communications technology (all of which started with the first cell phones in the 1970s), could do relatively little, they are now expected to do everything.  We don’t just rely on them; we take them for granted. This reliance on modern computer technology, modern networking, and wireless data transfer is why Computer-Aided Dispatch is now a must-have for emergency response. Where once, years ago, municipalities might have debated whether to invest in a Computer-Aided Dispatch system, they now argue over which provider, what infrastructure, and which software to deploy.

The rise of computer networks has been facilitated by a third innovation: geographical positioning systems. Modern GPS and wireless data transfer, combined with increasingly sophisticated software packages to manage, organize, file, and distribute information, have become part and parcel of the modern Computer-Aided Dispatch infrastructure. Deploying Computer-Aided Dispatch reduces dispatch times, reduces response times, makes it easier for those in need to reach emergency services, and is going a long way toward helping to keep and safeguard more accurate records of everything that transpires related to them.

As EMS1 explains, part of this was the transition from analog to digital. “Until relatively recently, all of this communication technology relied on analog signals to carry information,” their staff explains. “Analog isn’t the most trustworthy as it can be affected by environmental factors and requires significant power to be transmitted. For those reasons, analog (1g) and even 2g technology were highly limited in what types of data could be carried. Presently, many EMS systems are using 3G and 4G technology, which has brought us to where we are today in terms of call volume and mobile capabilities.” With 5G becoming ever-present, of course, that will continue to change in the future (for the better).

In 2012, the first high-speed broadband network was developed for emergency responders. That network now comprises all 50 states, two territories, and Washington, DC. EMS1 explains that this was a major first step toward interoperability between first responders. That’s going to be a big part of the development of Computer-Aided Dispatch going forward. Teaching systems to talk to each other and exchange data easily and quickly is what interoperability is all about. It does no agency any good to know that information relevant to a given dispatch is held in another system, where it is inaccessible or slow to access. For Computer-Aided Dispatch to continue to expand and improve, interoperability must be a key focus, as will integration into apps for first-response and 911/999 calls, automatic transmission of information, and related data transfer capabilities.

As we said in part 1 of this series, CAD is about one thing: creating a database of where to send whom while arming those sent with what. Caliber, and the Computer-Aided Dispatch industry overall, is working very hard to continue improving how, when, why, and with what we do that. Computer-Aided Dispatch is not the future of emergency response; it is the present, with a promising future that includes much more innovation and expansion on the horizon.