NowForce is harnessing GPS-enabled smartphones to give first responders an always-on connection to their computer-aided dispatch systems.

The NowForce apps allow CAD systems to track the real-time location of cellphone-carrying officers and integrate this data into their dispatch system. It also lets dispatch send and receive messages to these officers in real-time, and track which users open alert messages — giving a more-realistic assessment of available personnel during emergencies.

In addition, the software allows departments to attach skills information to each officer’s NowForce profile. For example, in the case of a medical emergency, dispatch can contact staff members who are both closest to the incident scene and most qualified to deal with it.

“You and I could be standing side-by-side, but if you were qualified to respond to a specialized medical emergency and I was not, the NowForce system would only contact you,” said Jason Goldberg, NowForce’s North American sales manager. “The app can be given to CPR-qualified citizens and on- and off-duty first responders. Qualified personnel with the application would not only be notified, but be able to accept a dispatch and send their response status similar to a mobile data terminal.”

The NowForce platform is accessible using a Web browser on dispatch terminals and users’ smartphones. It can be purchased as an on-site solution (NowForce installs servers to manage it), or as a cloud-based solution (where NowForce handles all of the back office aspects.)

“The advantage of the cloud-based solution — besides the fact that you don’t have to manage the servers — is that it can be accessed from anywhere with Web access,” Goldberg said. “This can be incredibly useful whenever key staff are out of the jurisdiction.”

Designed to work either as a standalone dispatch system or an additional layer to existing CADs, NowForce is licensed on an ongoing per-user basis. Volume discounts for large departments are available.