Your dispatch is quite literally the lifeline to your community. Is it working as hard as it could?
By Joe Fuller, Training Manager, Kologik
Whether it’s your favorite chair or a well-worn pair of jeans, it’s easy to stick with what’s comfortable. The same can be true of technology. Maybe you’ve had the same Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system for ages. Even if it doesn’t have all the latest bells and whistles, you think, it gets the job done.
But as important as comfort is, it’s not always the best place for a law enforcement agency to be. A new CAD may have a lot more to offer than you realize. In fact, updating your software can be a lifesaver, quite literally.
If you’re considering upgrading your dispatch system, here are some features and functionality your new CAD should have to help protect your officers and your community as well as make your dispatchers’ work easier and better:
1. Special Needs Alerts & Notes
This feature makes it simple to record any information officers or deputies should be aware of when responding to a call–everything from medical or mental health issues and disabilities to someone who’s not a native English speaker or a citizen known to carry a gun.
Those details are attached to an address, name or phone number in the CAD. So when a call for service comes in, the “Special Needs” alert is automatically displayed on the dispatcher’s screen; this allows them to read notes entered by officers, deputies or other dispatchers detailing what law enforcement should be aware of when they arrive on scene–information that could be lifesaving.
Basically, any type of information can be added to the system as a Special Needs alert or in the Notes feature of the Kologik CAD. For example, if someone has ongoing medical issues and often calls EMS for help, dispatchers can add notes with information about the person’s condition along with, say, a gate code or the location where a front door key is hidden, so EMS providers can gain access to the patient quickly when they arrive. (The Special Needs Alerts and Notes features are in addition to the BOLOs feature that’s also part of the Kologik CAD.)
2. Super Easy Drag-and-Drop
Dispatchers often have to handle multiple calls at once, of course, so a CAD that’s quick and easy to learn can make a huge difference. For example, Kologik CAD’s drag-and-drop system means that as calls come in, the dispatcher can simply move a responding unit(s) on the map on their display and drop it into a call for service, or they can move units from one call to another. They can then automatically route officers to the call with a single click. (While there’s a lot I could share with you about our CAD, this feature is the “wow” factor dispatchers love the most because of how incredibly easy it is to use, plus it brings up everything stored in the CAD about any past encounters with an individual when their name or other identifying information is typed in.)
As the call proceeds, the dispatcher has visibility into the location of each unit throughout the incident and can dispatch and direct other resources–such as EMS or fire–if they are needed, again by simply dragging and dropping EMS or fire into the call record. The integration of ANI/ALI (Automatic Number Identification / Automatic Location Identification) functionality within the CAD delivers a detailed record of the 911 caller’s location and phone number (whether landline or mobile), which the dispatcher can share with a first responder while still on the phone with a caller, resulting in faster arrival times.
3. Detailed Maps and Layouts
Law enforcement are trained to handle any crisis, but an active shooter at a school is among the most harrowing. Now imagine getting the call for this situation and being able to pull up and share a map of the campus into your CAD almost instantly.
In a matter of moments, you can see windows, floors and the layout of various floors. When I’m commanding a SWAT team in a crisis like this, I’d know that the shooter is in, say, Room 221. That will tell me which window to target, how we’ll set up a perimeter and where the SWAT team will be placed—all information pulled up in the incident command center directly from the CAD.
4. Advanced Search for Dispatchers
Life isn’t always linear, we know. So what about times when a dispatcher needs to review a past call but can’t remember much about it? Even with minimal information–such as part of a license plate number or a date range–an advanced search can help dispatchers locate relevant past records.
For instance, if a call needs to be reopened, the dispatcher can enter the data they do have and the CAD will pull up any related information, whether a name, vehicle, location or address and the records associated with these. The system can also search using date of birth, driver's license number, stolen property, serial numbers, and more, and the Kologik CAD can be customized to allow your agency to search for specialized information, too.
5. Automatic Upgrades
Any CAD worth the money should eliminate the headache of keeping your software current. Because Kologik software is cloud-based, that worry is gone. There’s no down time for upgrades, nor additional costs (not to mention the time suck of procurement). For so many law enforcement agencies I work with–not to mention the city councils they need to convince to get funding–this is probably the biggest reason they end up choosing the Kologik CAD. In addition to the ease of use, the seamless upgrades to the latest technology make the greatest difference.
Don’t get me wrong; there is a transition phase in moving your current data from an existing on-site CAD and getting a new, cloud-based system up and running. And depending on a variety of factors, the implementation phase can take up to 90 days, give or take. But a cloud-based solution means updates happen automatically and the system and data are typically stored in the cloud as well.
Whether you choose Kologik for your next CAD or another vendor, your agency should have easy, ready access to training, whether in-person or remotely, along with 24/7 customer support from real humans.
As a Kologik employee, I’m naturally proud of the software we offer. But I’m also a former police chief and someone who’s worked in law enforcement for 20 years. And I can say in all honesty that I don’t know of any other CAD that does everything ours does–and makes it easy for dispatchers to use.
You may not need all the bells and whistles, but isn’t it worth taking some time to explore what’s out there? After all, your next dispatch system might go a long way toward helping your officers and your community, perhaps in ways you never considered.