Computer Aided Dispatch History
In 1999, the El Paso – Teller County Enhanced 911 Authority Board along with the Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) began exploring the feasibility of implementing a Regional Computer Aided Dispatch (RCAD) system for the member agencies within El Paso and Teller Counties .
Due to the magnitude of the project, it was decided that it would be advantageous to hire a consultant, LaLoba International CAD Consulting, to assist with the initial tasks. The consultant and the member agencies began by performing a needs assessment that was composed of four phases. The first phase consisted of focus group meetings and was followed by an inventory of current CAD functionality within the member agencies. From the data that was gathered, a determination of sizing requirements was made. The final step was to estimate costs for a project of the anticipated size.
Upon completion of the needs assessment, the El Paso – Teller County Enhanced 911 Authority Board along with the Public Safety Answering Points believed there was sufficient evidence to develop and distribute a Request For Proposal for a Regional Computer Aided Dispatch system. After countless hours of proposal review and follow-up meetings with the vendors, a final selection was made. On December 12, 2001, the Chairman of the El Paso – Teller County Enhanced 911 Authority Board signed a contract with TriTech Software Systems of San Diego, CA to provide their CAD software for the Regional CAD project.
PSAP personnel, TriTech and JKA personnel began working together to put the conceived concepts into a detailed implementation plan. As a result of the planning process, a decision was made to break the project into phases.
The strategy of the phased approach was to bring the agencies that currently did not have a CAD system live first. This phase would be followed by agencies that currently had a CAD system, but had a CAD system that was less robust than the TriTech system. Next would be one of the larger agencies that currently utilizing a larger CAD system along with a smaller agency that did not have CAD capabilities.
Phase I included the Cripple Creek Police Department, the Manitou Springs Police Department, and the United States Air Force Academy Fire Department. The Phase II agencies included the Fountain Police Department, Fort Carson Fire Department, Teller County Sheriff’s Office, and the Woodland Park Police Department. For Phase III the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the Stratmoor Hills Fire Department would be brought live on the new CAD system. The final phase will make the Colorado Springs Police Department and AMR Ambulance Service a part of the Regional CAD system.
In the last quarter of 2002, the Phase I agencies were brought live on the TriTech CAD system. These go-lives occurred in November and included the Cripple Creek Police Department, the Manitou Springs Police, and the United States Air Force Academy Fire Department.
The remaining agencies were moved to the TriTech CAD system in 2003. Due to issues with the RMS interface Phase II was split further. Fort Carson Fire Department/Provosts Marshal Office and Woodland Park Police Department were first to move to TriTech CAD in February. Fountain Police Department and the Teller County Sheriff’s Office were next to go-live on the TriTech system. Fountain Police Department did experience RMS interface issues that required them to go off the TriTech system.
The Phase three agencies went live on the TriTech CAD system in November of 2003. This included the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the Stratmoor Hill’s Fire Department.
During 2004, the Fountain Police Department was successfully brought on to the TriTech CAD system. The CAD-to-CAD interface development was completed in 2004 for the agencies using TriTech CAD.
Development of a CAD-to-CAD interface between the TriTech CAD AMR has been completed. The interface to the Colorado Springs Police Department is in the final stages of completion.
Currently the agencies on on TriTech’s Command CAD Version 4.1. This version of CAD offers many enhancements to previous versions. The new functionality has allowed the users to do their job more proficiently.
The CAD Creation Process
The process of creating each agency’s CAD system begins by developing a Product Requirement Document (PRD), performing a site visit and system orientation. This is then followed by the Demonstration of Licensed Functionality (DOLF). The remaining tasks include user training and finally go-live.
The Product Requirement Document (PRD) is developed through meetings between TriTech and PSAP personnel. A PRD is written for each interface that an agency will use and spells out in detail how the interface will operate. Once the PRD is completed, the agency then reviews the document to verify that the text states their intentions of how the interface should work. After the PRD is accepted by the agency, then TriTech takes the document to their engineering department to begin creating the interface software to meet the PRD requirements.
TriTech then sends Business Analysts (BA) to perform an on-site visit at each agency. During the on-site visit the BA will observe how an agency does business. After the observation period, which normally lasts one to two days, the BA meets with the agency to go through a system orientation.
During the system orientation the agency begins the process of building the user portion of the CAD system. The BA starts by demonstrating the functionality of the CAD system through the use of a generic version of the CAD. From this point the agency personnel tells the BA what they expect to be included in their CAD system. This includes such things as call type lists, cancellation reasons, phone Rolodex information and many other details. The system orientation lasts from 1 day up to a week depending on the system complexity.
Upon completing the system orientation, the Business Analyst takes the information they gathered during the site visit and system orientation to begin building the customized CAD system. The process of building the CAD system takes several months.
The next step of the process is the Demonstration of Licensed Functionality (DOLF). During DOLF the Business Analyst goes through the customized CAD system with the agency personnel. At that time changes are made to the system so that the system meets the agency’s expectations. Once DOLF is completed the BA and the agency continue to make the final changes and modifications to the CAD system.
After the system is completed each agency sends their personnel through weeklong user training. During the training each user is given detailed information on how to use the CAD system. Each user is also given the opportunity to have hands-on time with the CAD system that was built for their agency.
The final step of the CAD implementation process is go-live. The go-live process lasts from two days up to a week. Most of the time is spent with the users working with the TriTech trainers. During this time the trainers answer the user’s CAD questions. This is also the time when modifications are made to the CAD system to eliminate any problems that may arise after go-live.
The CAD System
There are many facets that make up the Regional Computer Aided Dispatch system. These components include the technical personnel, network infrastructure, hardware and software.
With a system as complex and the RCAD, it requires dedicated personnel to maintain the system. Our computer department is made up of three staff members.
John Norman is the Deputy System Manager and Regional CAD Manger. Julius Torralba and Chris Bragg work as the Information Systems Specialists. All three staff members work together along with the System Manager, PSAP and TriTech personnel to keep the system maintained and operational.
For network communications to be successful, each agency needed to have the ability to communicate with all the other member agencies as well as the 911 Authority. Each agency must also have the ability to work independently in the event that communications link is lost. With these requirements in mind, the 911 Wide Area Network (WAN) was designed and implemented during the second quarter of 2002.
The 911 Authority Office acts as the central hub for the WAN. A DS-3 communications line was installed at the 911 Authority Office to handle what could be a large amount of data traffic. A Cisco 7200 router was also installed at the 911 Authority Office to handle the data routing tasks. The networking role of the 911 Authority is to offer redundant backup storage of each agencies data. This also allows for the 911 Authority Office to bring any agencies CAD system live at the 911 Authority Office in the event an agency’s center suffers a catastrophic event that renders their center inoperable.
Each member agency utilizes a T-1 line for their data communication needs. A Cisco 2600 router was installed at each of the member agencies to handle the necessary communications routing between each of the agencies and the 911 Authority.
At each of the agencies the communications was designed to transfer data at 100mb per second. This was accomplished through the use of 100mb switches, Category 5E network cabling and 100mb Ethernet cards.
Each agency has its own CAD server, Data Warehouse and interface servers. The number of interface servers at each agency depends on the number of CAD interfaces the agency utilizes.
The CAD server at each agency is a Stratus ft3200 fault tolerant server. The ft3200 is equipped with a 2-way DMR Pentium III Xeon 800 MHz processor with 256kb of L2 cache. The server has 2GB of memory and 72GB data of storage.
Each CAD interface runs on a separate server. The servers that are utilized as interface servers are the Dell PowerEdge 1650. The PowerEdge 1650 has one PIII, 1.13 GHz Pentium processor with 32kb L1 and 512kb L2 cache. The 1650 servers have 1GB of memory and 18GB of data storage space.
Each of the locations have network operating system software installed on each of the servers. There is also CAD server and interface server software installed. The type of interface server software that is installed depends on what interfaces the agency will use.
The network uses Windows 2000 as the network operating system software. During 2004 the process began started to move servers to Windows 2003 and workstations to Windows XP. The 911 Authority Server acts as the Domain Controller for the network. Each agency also has its own domain controller that operates under the 911 Authority Office domain controller.
This layout allows the WAN communications to take place as well as meeting each agency’s requirement to work independently in the event of lost network communications.
Each of the Phase I agencies went live on their new CAD system utilizing TriTech’s VisiCAD Command version 1.9. The CAD software uses Microsoft SQL Server 2000 for the database software solution. The software resides on the Stratus ft3200 server. The Stratus server provides the connectivity to the CAD software for the remaining interface servers and workstations that run CAD.
The final piece of the CAD solution is the interface servers. Each interface has its own software package. Each agency will have different interface servers depending on the interfaces they need to use. The interfaces that are common to each agency are 911, Multi-site Interoperability, Paging, and VisiNET Browser.
In the 911 interface, data transfers from the existing in-house E-911 system into VisiCAD. This makes it possible to display and record incoming 911 data specific to the caller’s address location and telephone number within CAD.
Multi-Site Interoperability allows for the transfer of incidents to any of the other communications centers within the system. The interface also allows for text messaging between the centers.
The Paging Interface allows for the use of alphanumeric paging functions for the sending of automated and ad-hoc messages. This Paging Interface is also used to notify users on the system, including field personnel, of emergency and non-emergency CAD incidents. This includes but is not limited to: Response Information, Response Comments, Response Times, Post Assignments, Late Out of Chute Warnings, Location Information, as well as sending free text messages.
VisiNET Browser is a Web based program that gives the non-CAD workstations the ability to access CAD information. Users can access waiting incident queues, active incident queues and unit activity files. Users also have the ability to review past calls. The interface offers the ability to send alphanumeric pages and text messaging to other users on the system.
Other interfaces that are not common to all the agencies include Alarm Notification, Records Check/Justice Message Switch, Records Management System Closed Record Download, Push-to-talk, and Station Alerting.
The Alarm Notification interface receives the alarm, processes it, and sends it to the VisiCAD system. The system will then download the appropriate location information from the “Premise” database and generate an incident in the waiting incident queue.
The Records Check interface provides the users with the ability to connect to and run records checks on local, state and federal databases. The queries can be completed through the use of forms or through a command line based method.
The Records Management System (RMS) Closed Record Download is an interface between VisiCAD and an agency’s RMS. The interface is designed to transfer VisiCAD incident data to the RMS application. This interface is capable of communicating with each of the distinct RMS applications at each of the agencies requiring the interface.
Anytime a field radio transmission button is depressed and the radio controller transmits the applicable data packet, the Push to Talk VisiCAD Message Switch captures the radio ID, the status type, and the date/time of transmission. The radio ID and status type information is then displayed within a VisiCAD window. Whenever a radio’s emergency button is pressed and the radio controller transmits the applicable data packet, the VisiCAD Message Switch will prompt VisiCAD Command to display a message to all dispatchers. The message will be in the form of a window that appears at the top of the desktop and will identify the unit that pressed the emergency button.
The functionality of the Station Alerting interface is to send a formatted text message from the interface to the appropriate station(s). Each fire or EMS station has a printer or fax machine directly connected to the WAN or through a phone line. The printer or fax produces a printout of the incident information for the responding vehicle(s). Once a call is completed the interface will send a closed incident report with all of the vehicle(s) response information.
Each interface is a great tool that can assist the dispatcher in doing their job more proficiently. It can also provide a safer environment for the field personnel through better tracking and information that is available.
The success of the RCAD project to this point has been made possible through the dedication and professionalism of the PSAP Personnel, the 911 Authority Board, LaLoba International CAD Consulting personnel, TriTech personnel and JKA staff. We are looking forward to continuing the success in the future.