Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Dispatchers to go digital

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Monday, December 18, 2006

PALMER—Dispatchers at the Dispatch Center in Palmer will soon have computer backup. No longer will they have to pore over maps on an incident, the computer will digitally pinpoint any location n in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Today dispatchers write the details of emergencies on paper cards. When did they dispatch someone? When did the responder arrive? Sometimes it takes two to three cards to document an incident.

"With the new computer system an internal clock automatically records the call, when they dispatch, that moment is time stamped into the record. In most cases it will be a push of a button or a click of a mouse. It's all drop-down menus," said Director of Emergency Services Dennis Brodigan, describing the transition from paper to electronically-captured information that the new system will bring.

For later research, a person will no longer have to manually sift through statistics for hours. Within minutes, information can be sorted by the computer system.

"This new technology will allow law enforcement and emergency services to work more efficiently," Brodigan said. "It will provide information to management that will help us to improve our response to calls and to provide more cost-effective service to the public."

The MAT-SU Borough Department of Emergency Services and the City of Palmer are in the beginning stages of updating the E-911 and Dispatch Center with a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system.

After a long and comprehensive selection process, the MAT-SU Borough selected InterAct Public Safety Systems, Inc. as the CAD vendor based on its modular design, its wide variety of capabilities, its relative ease of use for dispatchers, and its low cost. A grant for $494,379 from the Department of Justice, COPS Technology Grant Division paid for it.

Currently, the Dispatch Center has no computer assistance in the day-to-day dispatch of law enforcement, fire, EMS and rescue calls.

The CAD system includes a sophisticated mapping system integrated with a GIS (geographical information system) data base to accurately find any location n within the MAT-SU Borough.

This week an advanced team from InterAct Public Safety Systems is looking at the infrastructure of the Dispatch Center to plan proper installation. The installation is targeted for mid-January.

Reporters are welcome to observe the new system after installation and training.

For more information contact Director of Emergency Services Dennis Brodigan at (907) 373-8815.