Computer-Aided Dispatch is a critical part of emergency response. As technology advances, however, it becomes necessary for Computer-Aided Dispatch to evolve with it. In this way, improvements in technology and new methods of communicating and transmitting mission-critical information can be leveraged to make Computer-Aided Dispatch, or CAD, more efficient — even as it better positions responders to provide help to those who need it.

One of most significant evolutions in the way people communicate is the use of phones for almost anything but to make voice phone calls. As the popularity of texting has increased, people think of communication, even in emergencies, as the sending of discrete messages containing critical information. When it comes to accessibility, of course, the advantages of texting are obvious. Someone who cannot hear or speak (due to disability or injury) can text to 911 to get help. But in areas with poor signal coverage where a voice call cannot connect, text to 911 can get help where a voice call cannot. Yet another advantage of texting 911 is that it is possible to do so secretly and silently, which avoids alerting someone whom the caller does not want to know that 911 has been called.

This service has created significant impacts on public safety software developers, given that it represents a departure from the traditional model of voice calls to 911 centers. Caliber Public Safety offers a service called Texty-to-911, for example, that has been available with our Caliber CAD NG versions 10.22 and higher.

One of the challenges faced by public safety agencies is quickly directing resources and personnel to those who need it most. In a time-critical emergency, every second counts. Once Texty-to-911 is enabled and all requirements met, individuals may request assistance quickly and efficiently through text message. Again, for all the reasons we’ve already described, this may be preferable to voice calls.

The interface offers leading-edge features that enhance CAD NG while supporting first responders and 911 callers. These include automatically generating incidents and narratives in the Computer-Aided Dispatch software, transmission of caller information, and integration with important context if the incident is linked to other data about the situation (depending on databases that may be connected to offer more context and alerts). The result is an increased likelihood of positive outcomes and a potential improvement in response times. Services like Caliber’s Texty-to-911 can also be integrated with mapping, which makes it easier for responders to locate and assist those in need.

Until technology brings us the next sea change in how people communicate, text messaging is here to stay. Working to integrate it into Computer-Aided Dispatch just makes good sense. Caliber is working to do that, as are countless other developers of public safety software. This represents an improvement for everyone who needs to seek assistance quickly, efficiently, and – when needed – completely silently.