City of Kingston automates its emergency dispatching services

Endeavoring to improve its emergency response times, the City of Kingston, Ont. announced this week it has selected St. John’s-based IT integrator xwave Solutions Inc. to deploy computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and mobile workstation technology to the city’s fire department.

The Kingston Fire & Rescue services is a composite force of 235 employees and volunteers responsible for fire control and rescue, along with public fire education and inspection for the city. Kingston Fire & Rescue will implement the vendor’s xwaveCAD computer-aided dispatch and mobile technology, said John Taker, director, business development, public safety group, xwave.

This includes xwave’s Remote Office and Dispatch System (ROADS) for in-car laptops, and OnPatrol, and an application for BlackBerry wireless handheld devices.

Greg Robinson, captain with Kingston Fire and Rescue, said the client-server CAD system would connect with and assist the City’s call taking and dispatching functions. This includes the voice radio system, the fire hall alerting system, a fire records management system and a wireless alarm monitoring system.

For example, the CAD system will use the wireless data network – which provides information from remote smoke detectors, sprinklers and pull-alarms in buildings – to automatically generate dispatch information to relay calls to the central command centre and mobile command posts.

Automating these services will improve access to information and response times, Robinson said, adding that the old system involved a paper-based process.

Currently the average police and fire personnel response times in assigning emergency calls, querying databases, and locating vehicles in the field is one minute; implementing the technology can shave that time down to approximately ten seconds, Robinson said.

The project is in the testing and training stages and is slated for full roll out in October. “There’s an awful lot of data that needs to be entered into the CAD.” Robinson said.

Ultimately, the system will support not only Kingston Fire & Rescue, but also the fire services of several outlying fire departments within the county, which depend upon the services of volunteer fire fighters, Robinson said.

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