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What is a Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system? 

Computer-aided dispatch (CAD), also called computer-assisted dispatch, is a method of dispatching taxicabscouriers, field service technicians, mass transit vehicles, or emergency services assisted by computer. It can either be used to send messages to the dispatcher via a mobile data terminal (MDT) and/or used to store and retrieve data (i.e. radio logs, field interviews, client information, schedules, etc.). A dispatcher may announce the call details to field units over a two-way radio. Some systems communicate using a two-way radio system's selective calling features. CAD systems may send text messages with call-for-service details to alphanumeric pagers or wireless telephone text services like SMS.


The central idea is that persons in a dispatch center are able to easily view and understand the status of all units being dispatched. CAD provides displays and tools so that the dispatcher has an opportunity to handle calls-for-service as efficiently as possible.

CAD typically consists of a suite of software packages used to initiate public safety calls for service, dispatch, and maintain the status of responding resources in the field. It is generally used by emergency communications dispatchers, call-takers, and 911 operators in centralized, public-safety call centers, as well as by field personnel utilizing mobile data terminals (MDTs) or mobile data computers (MDCs).

CAD systems consist of several modules that provide services at multiple levels in a dispatch center and in the field of public safety. These services include call input, call dispatching, call status maintenance, event notes, field unit status and tracking, and call resolution and disposition. CAD systems also include interfaces that permit the software to provide services to dispatchers, call takers, and field personnel with respect to control and use of analog radio and telephone equipment, as well as logger-recorder functions.


(See the Video on how a Computer Aided Dispatch System works)

In Hawaii, Most departments (Fire, Police, EMS) are converting their CAD systems to a Unified system called Spillman CAD (powered by Motorola) that coincides with the new APCO P25 systems that the counties are currently running on or soon will be running on once set up. With this CAD system in place, it will allow all counties to share information on incidents, driving records, etc. statewide without having a switch to a different system when conducting checks for those in the field. Many mainland departments are switching to Spillman and making information from the mainland a lot easier to access during times of inquiry. (See the Video below for an introduction on what is Spillman CAD and how it works)

Along with the CAD system, emergency alert system on the new Motorola P25 Phase 2 radios allows the dispatchers to see who is possibly having an emergency. This prevents other traffic from interfering until that unit responds to either verify they have an emergency or it was an accidental activation and will clear the emergency signal on the radio. 


(Watch the video of a demonstration of the Emergency Button the radio is activated and how the dispatcher must respond to that if it was a true emergency.)

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