Zetron’s new command-and-control platform is designed for mobility
ANAHEIM, Calif.—Zetron will introduce this week at the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) conference a remote command-and-control suite that enables 911 telecommunicators to access several of the company’s platforms via laptop and tablet PCs. The platforms include the Advanced Communications System (Acom), MAX Dispatch, MAX Call-Taking and Mobile CAD.
“The idea is to extend these functions beyond the walls of the command center,” said Kathy Broadwell, Zetron’s vice president of product management, during an interview with Urgent Communications. “We can do this without compromising any capabilities or features—as a matter of fact, the screens look just as they do on a full-blown console.”
Such a claim might seem to be hyperbole given all that appears on a telecommunicator’s screen. But Zetron designed its platforms so that telecommunicators can keep most information in the background, in order to reduce screen clutter.
“When competitors try to [replicate dispatch screens on a laptop or tablet], they take all those buttons and all those channels, and they try to make them tiny and put them on this tiny screen,” Broadwell said. “Max Dispatch has been architected so that dispatchers can bring up the things they need to see at that time … and they can move things away when they don’t need them. That lets them move to a smaller screen, and they really don’t lose anything.”
One potential use case for the remote command-and-control platform would be in situations where a dispatch center is either inoperable or unreachable in the event of a disaster.
“In an emergency for instance, if they had to pick up and run, so to speak, or go to a backup center, they would be able to keep operating with their laptops, and not miss a beat,” Broadwell said.
She added that customers also have been asking for the ability to establish dispatch functionality at the scene of a major incident.
“These are incidents where a significant amount of resources have been assigned to them and they last all day—significant fires, things like that,” Broadwell said. “Being able to dispatch onsite gives the dispatcher a better awareness of what’s happening, so that they can coordinate resources better.”
For example, at a major fire that requires response from multiple companies or jurisdictions, an accountability board is set up in order to keep track of equipment and personnel resources. Broadwell said that a firefighter typically is assigned to monitor the board and provide updates to dispatch.
“That firefighter wouldn’t be needed there if the dispatcher was on site, and could just look and see what was going on, and knew who was going where,” she said.
There are many other use cases. Broadwell told of one county where a NASCAR race was going to be held. Crashes often occur at such events—and cars occasionally fly into the spectator seating area—so officials approached Zetron about setting up dispatch on site, just in case something happened.
“If the dispatcher were on site, and if an accident occurred, not only would that knowledge be instantaneous, they also wouldn’t have to rely on someone calling in and reporting what was going on on the ground,” she said. “And if the dispatcher actually was located up in the control tower, they would be able to see what exits were blocked, where the traffic was and where the people were, so they’d be able to direct resources better.”
In other news, Zetron recently became an authorized reseller of Eventide call-logging equipment. Broadwell said that the two companies would work together in the future to create “unique features” for their products.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean that we wouldn’t work with another logging-recorder company if a customer preferred that,” Broadwell said. “But right now we’re going to focus on our reseller channel selling Eventide logging recorders.”
Also, Zetron recently entered into a reseller agreement with Direct Technology for its ECaTS 911 solution, a management information system (MIS) reporting platform that collects and analyzes data from emergency calls. Broadwell said that the collaboration would strengthen the Max Call-taking platform.
“Users will be able to take a data dump straight out of our call-taking system and format it into reports that can automatically be sent to the state, to report their statistics,” Broadwell said. “Most states require [public safety answering points] to keep track of how many calls they got, how many hang-ups, how many were on hold, how long it took to answer each call, that kind of thing. … They have to collect those statistics to prove to the state that they’re doing their job.”