I think that’s an old saw from the real estate business, but it also applies to the public safety enterprise. Geography is incredibly important to police officers and firefighters. Understanding where your resources are is important for a supervisor and a dispatcher. It’s also important for a police officer or firefighter to have a general sense of where his or her colleagues are. It’s about both resource utilization and employee safety. In an emergency, we’d all like to find the officer or firefighter who needs help.
During my career, keeping track of who’s where has always been accomplished via the radio. You tell the dispatcher where you are at when called, you let the dispatcher know when you’ve arrived at the scene, and so forth. You keep an ear tuned to your beat buddies’ radio traffic, so you’ve got a general idea where they are and what they’re doing.
This is all about to change, with automated vehicle location, and with the embedded location services in a growing variety of mobile devices. Such systems are not new, but in the past few years the technology has become much more approachable. Today, I can whip up a sorta-kinda-AVL system with free apps on a group of smartphones. In fact, I do just that with my family.
Although some police and fire departments have used this technology for years, we are just beginning to experiment with it here in Lincoln. Last week, we lit up GPS receivers in a handful of our Lincoln Fire & Rescue vehicles. When three of these units all responded to this incident yesterday afternoon, a snapped the screen shot below: