Computers will dominate PSAPs of the future
It is 4:25 a.m., and the dispatcher is looking forward to finishing the shift at the emergency communications center and heading home. The only thing left is to reset the Geostat tracking system, initiate a network-clock time check, download the shift report and sign off.
The power 9-1-1 terminal on the console presents an incoming emergency call incident as the dispatcher is about to start the sign-off procedure. The system begins tracking the location of the call even before the dispatcher has time to touch the terminal and initiate audio contact. The Geostat screen responds instantly by highlighting the caller’s location on a sector map.
The dispatcher touches the response button. “9-1-1, what is your emergency?”
“Someone is trying to break into my apartment.”
The dispatcher quickly keys in the caller’s response breaking and entering in progress. Instantly the console displays the center’s standard on-screen prompts. How many suspects? Where are they now? Is there anyone else with you? The dispatcher works with the system to take down information. The computer recommends the dispatch of two mobile units.
Shifting to map view to facilitate the real-time tracking, the dispatcher decides to add a third unit, and with a touch of the screen, sends all of the information relating to the call to waiting police cruisers. The dispatcher is relieved to see that the caller’s building’s remote-video surveillance system is locked on, and there is a clear view of the exterior of the caller’s apartment, showing the intruder at the balcony window.
A glance at the automatic vehicle identification (AVL) screen lets the dispatcher know the police units are now no more than 30 seconds away.
This incident may sound like a scene from a science-fiction novel, but the future is now. Major advancements in communication protocols are allowing for unprecedented levels of voice and data integration. While SONET and Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) transmissions promise greater and more affordable bandwidth accessibility, satellite-based mapping, wireless systems and Internet data are better options. The challenge for emergency communication managers, however, is to effectively and affordably put this technology in the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).
The personal computer is the most accessible and affordable answer. Industry standard software interfaces have made the integration of telephone, dispatch and data access applications possible. Intelligent workstations must be flexible and expandable, allowing for the integration of emerging communication protocols and technologies. A computer-based emergency response system has many features, including:
* Incident detailing. After selecting a designated incident type such as breaking and entering or auto accident from the caller, the system presents the call-taker with pre-programmed, key questions relative to the emergency at hand. All of the incident details recorded by the call-taker are automatically stored in the system’s database;
* Interpreter key. This key allows the call-takers to change the language of the questions presented to them on the screen to match the language of the caller, including pre-programmed questions.
* Number/location identification. While the incoming Automatic Number Identification (ANI) and Automatic Location Identification (ALI) information resides permanently in the database, the information is presented to the call-taker in a data entry mode. This allows the call-taker to identify and record the location of the incident without affecting the original ANI/ALI data. In addition, call-takers have the ability to share the information with other call-takers, alerting call-takers to multiple calls from a single incident;
* Enhanced supervisory functions. Supervisors and PSAP managers can view the center’s activity as it happens and read an on-line broadcast of a visual message to each workstation in the PSAP without interrupting call-taker activity. Supervisors and managers can view all active calls, view all abandoned calls, view, calls by incident type or view calls by ANI/ALI data.