At APCO 2013 back in August, I visited with a number of vendors marketing everything from police radios to cloud services to cleaning supplies for consoles.
Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) was heavily in the mix, with 40 registered vendors in the exhibit hall. I had a particularly fruitful discussion with Andrew Moreno-Sayko, Western regional sales manager for InterAct Public Safety, over a grilled cheese sandwich called “The First Responder.”
He discussed how InterAct’s products meet specific needs for the front-line dispatcher, and then invited me for a demo.
Public Safety Cloud
InterAct, which has been offering public safety products for 35 years, creates interconnected software products that support dispatchers, incident responders (police, fire, EMS), and corrections officers worldwide. Their solutions exist in more than 2,400 city, county, state, federal and international agencies across 46 states.
Moreno-Sayko showed me InterAct’s InterDEx national data sharing network, which runs on their CAD software. He also explained the InterAct Public Safety Cloud. “InterAct facilitates data sharing,” Moreno-Sayko explains. “It is open software hosted at NLETS [national law enforcement telecommunications systems], and an agency’s record management software doesn’t have to interact to share the data.”
Indiana and Maryland use InterAct software statewide. “In Indiana, the government cut the number of PSAPs [public safety answering points] in half, so they looked to a platform that could share,” says Moreno-Sayko.
In line with the records management and data sharing aspect, I was intrigued with their CAD system’s integration of all the data into the computer screen dispatchers spend the most time staring at.
InterAct’s CAD places no limitations on what you can add to the system, with options defined by user roles. Remembering my time on the floor and the frustration it would cause when I didn’t get the right command format, I liked how InterAct’s system’s command line prompts the correct format. Like an Excel cell, you type in the beginning of the command and the system populates the remainder for you.
Another very useful feature is the ability to put more than one command on a single line. I don’t remember how many times I would have an officer tell me he was out on a traffic stop right before another officer cleared with radio traffic reference his or her call. Although it only took a few seconds to type the first, enter, then move to the next, the ability to do it all on one line would save the need to hold so much information in short-term memory. It also prevents dropped commands.
The InterAct system also allows pre-populated choices for location, code, etc. This can be programmed as an auto-fill or a drop-down box. An agency can add any kind of information into the system, including warnings, prior incidents, and resident information such as medical needs or the location of a fire key. A building blueprint could also be added.
Another neat thing in this CAD system is the ability to add standard questions affiliated with a particular call code.
For example, if a 911 operator clicks on the code “bomb threat,” another window pops up with prompts for particular questions to ask. This is incredibly useful – we were required to document certain traits of a caller if a bomb threat was called in, such as accent, tone of voice and background noise. This was unique from other calls.
InterDEx adds to the CAD the ability to have fully integrated data runs such as a person or license plate. The system is fully compliant with National Emergency Number Association (NENA).
Updates Without Fuss
“Agencies may use the software differently,” Moreno-Sayko says, “but it’s supported by one IRS [Incident Reporting System]. This is a better software model. InterAct can push in new updates at no charge as long as you’re a customer.”
The lack of limits on the information you can add, the security offered by records management hosted at NLETS, and the ease of use made InterAct’s products quite appealing to me. I believe this would be true for any 911 operator/dispatcher and communications center manager.
“This is the last piece of software they’ll need to buy, as long as they’re happy with us,” Moreno-Sayko concluded.