It’s commonplace for all of us to try and see how we can build the bridges between the pieces of tech we use each day. This is done everywhere and in each industry, including emergency services and response.
One of the most used pieces of tech in this industry are CADs (computer-aided dispatch systems). However, CADs are often closed systems that capture all the data emergency services need. But there is an opportunity for these systems (depending on how they’re built) to integrate with other tools employed by emergency services.
The CAD Ecosystem
Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems help first responders and emergency services around the country respond to local events and keep their communities safe and healthy.
CAD systems once represented a sparkly new future for emergency services. Now, in 2020, CAD systems, while still almost universally deployed across the country’s communities, can sometimes be a symbol of the past, as the technology they use is outdated and easily surpassed by the capabilities of today’s innovations.
Some dispatchers, however, are using newer systems that are strict upgrades to the previous systems they and other dispatchers across the country use.
Is there an advantage to using an older system over a newer one? There are most likely more efficiencies wrapped into the new system; it may operate faster and be less cumbersome overall. A newer system may have more tools and flexibility as well.
Integrating CAD Systems
CAD systems are often closed. They fully accomplish the task of capturing incoming emergency information, and creating a record for emergency responders to reference as they respond to the incident.
Just because CAD systems are often close-looped and wholly perform a function doesn’t mean they can’t integrate with operations within the EOC. Additionally, while a CAD system may perform the function of capturing the information from each emergency dispatch, it may not allow that information to live beyond the initial dispatch. Certain incidents may lead to prolonged responses and incidents, wherein a police department or other emergency service may need to continue creating documentation.
This is where integrations come into play. Newer systems should have the flexibility to integrate with other tools often deployed within the EOC, giving response teams, municipalities, and other governmental bodies the option of shoring up the traditional shortcomings of CAD systems.
The Advantages to Integrating CAD Systems
Each call that comes into a CAD system because of a dispatch creates a record. Some incidents are small and one-off, and don’t necessarily need follow-up. Some calls lead to larger events; as the event develops, more parties may be involved, notes will need to be taken, and authorities and other entities may need to reference the information on an ongoing basis.
This is where a traditional CAD system becomes a sore point. Often, these systems are isolated and really only capture the initial information from the call and dispatch. Integrations can alleviate this issue, however, as long as an existing CAD system has the capability and infrastructure to talk to other systems and platforms.
Via an integration, once a dispatch record is created in a CAD system, a separate platform that’s integrated with the CAD system can create its own identical record that users can later go back to, edit, and continue to work from if needed. Additionally, a set-up like this would create a secondary/back-up record of all dispatches, which is always a plus.
CAD Systems and Emergency Management
CAD systems, from the emergency management perspective, sometimes capture the beginning of incidents that would require plan and EOC activations.
For any team, agency, or EOC already using a digital emergency management and response platform, it’s worth asking what local dispatchers systems they use for CAD. From there, you and your colleagues can start exploring what integrations are possible.
Ideally, your EOC can integrate its digital response platform with local CAD systems to not only create records of incoming calls, but to also get a head start on certain incidents. An integration between your agency’s digital response platform and the CAD system could activate portions of your EOPs and all hazards plans when an incoming call meets the right criteria.
Additionally, an integration of this kind can also allow the CAD system to pass multiple data points to your response platform, which can round out a response and aid in analytics and after-action reporting.
Say a tropical storm were to hit your team’s jurisdiction. Through an integration, each call coming into the local CAD system about downed trees or wires could feed to your response platform, which could all be tallied and displayed in a concise manner for your team to see.
CAD Systems and Integrations
While some CAD systems are older and not capable of keeping up with today’s technology, the newer systems present an exciting opportunity. Emergency management teams can integrate their existing response platforms with these (usually) simple systems to create a data ecosystem between the two, making their programs more holistic, efficient, effective, and streamlined.