DENVER—For some time, industry observers have noted the importance for public-safety answering points (PSAPs) to migrate to an IP-based platform to realize cost advantages and functionality in handling the myriad means of communications available today.

Ottawa-based CML Emergency Services today is announcing the first IP-based, 911 communications system certified by IP networking giant Cisco. The Patriot 3.0 solution, which integrates call handling and radio dispatch, is being deployed in a small PSAP in Cortez, Colo.

“For the call handler, they don’t have to transfer information to someone else to dispatch resources; they can do it themselves,” CML CEO Steve Panyko said. “For the price you pay today for a 911 call-handling system, you get call handling and radio dispatch integrated.”

Functionally, that’s nothing new for the Cortez PSAP, said Connie Johnson, communications supervisor for the Cortez Communications Center.

“Truthfully, what it looks like to the dispatcher is not all that different,” Johnson said. “The immediate thing is to be Phase II wireless compliant, and that has nothing to do with the IP part of it.”

Indeed, Cortez selected CML to upgrade its PSAP before the vendor unveiled that it had developed an IP solution, Johnson said. Because Cortez already used Cisco’s voice-over-IP phones for its administrative lines, it was a logical candidate to be a beta site for CML’s new IP platform.

The advantage for such PSAPs is that the CML solution serves as the PBX for the administrative lines and is fully integrated with call-handling and radio-dispatch functions within the PSAPs. And a fully IP platform allows for a much more flexible work force.

“Today, when there is a large incident and additional dispatchers are needed, PSAPs rely on cell phones and pagers to reach them, but by the time they get [to the PSAP], the incident is usually over,” Panyko said. “With IP, you can contact the dispatchers at home, and they can immediately start taking calls and dispatching from home or wherever there is a high-speed Internet connection.”

Panyko said the close-knit team environment needed in a PSAP probably precludes the notion of full-time work-from-home dispatching. However, IP will allow PSAPs to move their offices from their current locations--often near the incumbent local carrier’s central office--to a more advantageous location.

“You can move this anywhere you have a high-speed Internet connection,” Panyko said. “You don’t have to be close to the radio system or the Class 5 switch.”

Working with CML on this PSAP solution is just part of renewed commitment toward public safety by Cisco, said Morgan Wright, the vendor’s global industry solution manager for justice and public safety. By using IP in PSAPs and other areas of law enforcement, first responders can access important information in real time via different media--voice, video and text--that will let them work more effectively, he said.

CML’s solution is a prime example, as PSAPs that deploy it will be able to accept all forms of IP communications--including VoIP, of course--as the 911 system is adapted for them.

“These guys from CML are great guys; they get it,” Wright said. “This is the only PSAP solution that is certified to interoperate with Cisco technology. And that’s not something to be taken lightly, because you’re dealing with calls that can mean the difference between life and death.”

E-mail me at djackson@primediabusiness.com.