Computer-assisted dispatch systems are programs that send dispatch messages to emergency and transportation employees. The program also records and captures information from callers and employees involved in the dispatch process. Computer-assisted dispatch systems route all calls and data through a server that is located in a central office. Communication between field employees, citizens and call operators is facilitated and constantly updated in real time by the computer program.
Emergency phone lines use computer-assisted dispatch systems to send out ambulances, fire trucks and police officers. The emergency personnel are directed to the location specified by the caller. Phone numbers that are dedicated to receiving emergency calls automatically capture caller information and location through the server. Even though the call agent must verify the address location, the computer program retrieves it just in case the call becomes disconnected.
The dispatch system logs the time the call was received and continues to update its status. Some computer-assisted dispatch systems are sophisticated enough to send out text messages to cellular phones or pagers. The program automatically knows which field personnel to contact to ensure the most efficient response. For example, if a caller reports a fire, the computer program will send out a dispatch message to the fire station located nearest to the caller's address.
Besides sending out dispatch messages, computer-assisted dispatch systems provide a streamlined communication method. The program assists with providing regular status updates depending upon the actions and responses of field employees. It may also notify phone operators how far a responder is from the caller's location. For example, in a situation that calls for an ambulance, the operator may continue to stay on the line with the caller and let him know the ambulance's expected arrival time.
In addition to providing statuses, the server is able to log notes from field employees and phone operators. Anything that is pertinent to the situation or case is logged and captured by the system as a permanent record. This can come in handy if those records need to be subpoenaed in a law suit or other dispute. Computer-assisted dispatch systems will also record how the call and situation was resolved and whether it is an ongoing or one-time issue.
Many computer programs that track and record calls will consist of different codes or standardized statuses. Operators and field employees will typically be able to manually select from a list or make a side entry under an "other" category. When different operators and employees pull up the same call record, they will be able to discern what the status is by the code.