Five years ago, EMS1 published a piece about the future of computer-aided dispatch. In it, contributor Megan Wells highlighted multiple advances in “next generation” technology that would inform the direction and growth of ever-more critical computer-aided dispatch systems and software. Now, five years later, it’s interesting to look at those predictions and compare them to the current (and leading edge) technology landscape. Among Wells’ predictions for technology that will affect the future of computer-aided dispatch are silent dispatching, voice assistants, application integration, audio analytics, wearable technology, and even drones paired with CAD.

“Audio is typically considered unstructured data, or information that cannot be easily arranged and analyzed,” Wells explains. “However, as technology continues to improve, analyzing audio for deep learning becomes possible. Advancements in AI technology have already started to pave the way. In Copenhagen, dispatchers are analyzing a caller’s words and background clues to understand if a patient is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.”

“While single-purpose devices, such as LifeAlert, already exist, it’s reasonable to assume CAD technology will soon be integrated into consumer devices that we use all the time,” Wells goes on. “If CAD technology could work with wearable technology, it could encourage more streamlined communication in the field.”

We’re seeing both of these technologies integrated with smartphones, and while wearable technology still hasn’t fully caught on (Apple is, as of now, trying to pitch the newest generation of wearable goggles), smart watches and AI are definitely integral to our technology landscape. That AI technology is also part and parcel of voice assistants (including their ability to determine what we’re asking them to do when we speak to them). Even now, the debate about AI technology rages on, with half the landscape crying doom and the other half announcing that AI is the future. With sensible safeguards in place, the reality is somewhere in between.

For example, fast food restaurants are already testing AI for order-taking, meaning that the computer intelligence must interpret natural, human speech and relay the information it contains accurately against the restaurant’s menu. Technology that can do this is only a few steps away from processing a 911 call and relaying information. The applications are immediately obvious: Imagine a 911 call center that can field every call it receives immediately and simultaneously, with no wait times, as the AI software processes the call and/or forwards some of these for human intervention. Coupled with computer-aided dispatch, this would represent a revolution in how emergency response is conducted, and we are seeing steps toward this ultimate goal even now.

As for features like silent dispatching and application integration, Caliber operates at the forefront of these and is always innovating along these lines. Silent dispatching, in particular, is a critical value-added for alerting authorities when it is not possible or even safe for personnel to be seen or heard calling for help. The only aspect of Wells’ piece that remains to be seen is the future use of drones and, already, law enforcement and other first response agencies are experimenting with drone and “robot” devices on a limited basis.

Soon, the floodgates will open. It will be fascinating to see the future of computer-aided dispatch in a next-generation (and next-next-generation) technology setting. As always, Caliber Public Safety will be at the forefront of that development, ready and able to support the personnel working in these fields.