How to buy dispatch equipment
The phrase “dispatch equipment” typically refers to the non-telephony and non-radio equipment used by frontline public safety telecommunicators to carry out the day-to-day operations of the communications center. This includes — but is not limited to — such technology as computer aided dispatch (CAD) systems, automatic vehicle locator (AVL) systems, geographic information systems (GIS) and mapping systems. These systems may come together as a package or may be purchased separately from different vendors.
Each of these systems or programs has specific functions and, with each, the communications center will need to decide which functions are necessities and which are luxuries. It is important that those people tasked with making these decisions be realistic in their decision-making process and consider what is best for the agency versus what would be nice to have.
Though the needs and functions of the equipment vary depending on its purpose, some things remain the same when dealing with important issues that will need to be addressed prior to purchase.
1. Data interoperability
2. Next generation 9-1-1
3. Interface with emerging technologies
- Creation of a detailed responsibility matrix (who does what when);
Though some level of technical knowledge is beneficial for these types of initiatives, it is not required for those managing today’s communications centers to be a rocket scientist. Simply knowing where to look and what to look for can go a long way to ensuring your new equipment functions properly and benefits your agency.
One of the best ways to raise your personal level of knowledge and awareness about the types of solutions being used successfully (and to hear from people who are not totally satisfied with their Dispatch Equipment) is to talk with your counterparts in neighboring jurisdictions. Go get a couple minutes over coffee at their Dispatch Center, ask lots of questions, and even ask them for the names of people they talked to when they were in your shoes.
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