After releasing a series of application programming interfaces (APIs) beginning late last year, Zetron is seeing dispatch centers leverage the new capabilities and efficiencies that are enabled through the offerings, according to company officials.

“Long ago, Zetron made a commitment to push open standards on all of our radio, call-taking and CAD [products],” Mark Cranmore, Zetron’s senior product manager for MAX Dispatch, said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “Now, we are pushing on our products to make that same commitment to all of our third-party vendors … Not only do we play well with all of our internal products, but we play well with others.”

This philosophy is being realized in part through the release of APIs that are designed to integrate with location-services, paging and text-to-911 offerings, as well as supporting interoperability through the P25 console subsystem interface (CSSI) standard and other solutions used in dispatch centers, Cranmore said.

“With an API, I can hand it off to a third-party vendor—in most cases in the dispatch environment, you’re talking about a CAD vendor, when you’ve got a radio console,” he said. “I can hand it off to a CAD vendor, and—from the CAD—they can initiate calls on the radio side.

“So, if somebody has a radio and they push an orange or red button to declare it an emergency, that can actually propagate over to the CAD. From the CAD, you can acknowledge that emergency, clear that emergency and call back that person from the CAD, all while you’re typing that information and are dealing with the CAD.”

Alice Johnson, Zetron’s product manager for MAX Call-Taking, said Zetron’s integration efforts are particularly helpful to dispatch-center personnel, because of the company’s user interface, which has been designed to help call-takers and dispatchers work as efficiently as possible.

“We understand what the end user needs, and that’s what we’re trying to deliver—a powerful tool for them to perform the critical functions in the control room to the best of the abilities,” Johnson said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “It should be the most user-friendly, practical, make their life as less complicated as possible, because they have very difficult jobs.”

Call-center personnel want “fewer keystrokes and more integration,” Johnson said.

They also want as few screens as possible—something that is aided through integration via Zetron’s APIs, according to Cranmore.

“Most dispatch centers already have a map in it. If I put a map on my radio-dispatch console, that just gives them another map—and they don’t want another map,” Cranmore said. “What they want is another layer on their existing map. So, by giving them the APIs for the information for location services off the radio, I can give it to them, and they can plot it on their map using those APIs.

“You could call it a back door into our systems—into the radio system or the call-taking system—where you can get information out and put it on other pieces of equipment where the dispatcher’s focus is. As we all know, more and more information is coming into the dispatch center and flooding the dispatchers, so anything we can do to make their job easier and consolidate some of those functions is a great benefit to them.”

Johnson noted that Zetron supports new advanced mapping features and is partnering with other companies to deliver integrated solutions—for example, working with Eventide on the collection of text-to-911 messaging and RapidSOS to more accurately locate 911 callers using wireless devices.

Implementing such capabilities not only improves call-center functionality today, but it is designed to help ease the transition to next-generation technologies, Johnson said.

“The APIs are being groomed to accept and transport the next-generation technologies as they’re coming through,” she said. “We want to have the control room prepared. As these technologies roll out, we want the system that they already have to be ready to accept and process that information—and have it move throughout the solution. All of the equipment in the control room needs to work and play together.”