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Information on a CAD system.

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  • Information on a CAD system.

    I'd like to start researching and collecting data to maybe have a CAD System in our department within 2-3 years. Were currently a small town department, but we have a fairly large cover area. We run 3 peices or apparattus, and I'd like to have all three company's on board with the system at once. Maybe even have the relief chip in on some of the cost . What I'm interested in from you guys, is how they help, prices, etc.

    I see some people run their in truck CAD through something like a Panisonic Toughbook, I think running an android-like-windows tablet, Unless it would really be a pain to use in the truck.

    Thanks Guys
    Firefighter 1/ PA EMT-B

  • #2
    More information on what exactly you are looking for would be helpful. Are you looking for a mobile data solution in your trucks that would provide mapping, preplans, hydrant location, etc., from information received from the Computer Aided Dispatch system at your communications center or are you looking for a Computer Aided Dispatch system to install at your comm center in conjunction with the mobile data solution?


    • #3
      You need to look at the entire scope of your needs. Are you looking to include photos, floor plans, response information, FDC locations or? You should explore costs vs. needs - you get what you pay for and technology is changing daily. Will you have wifi on the rigs?

      We run 10 pieces and used a mix of tablets and laptops and each rig is a hot spot. Once we arrive on scene only the duty chief uses a machine and it's used for a combination of PAR, building plans & google Maps and a checklist.


      • #4
        You have a big challenge in front of you. Some of these questions may help pin down more details that may assist us and you in defining the scope of your project.

        1. CAD, do you only dispatch for Fire or does your dispatch center dispatch for others like PD or public works? I only ask because these system can be costly, just for the CAD portion. Spreading it across more departments or more agencies (if you dispatch of surrounding areas) can help with the cost.

        2. Do you have an ANI/ALI answering system now? Do you want that data to flow into your CAD so that dispatchers do not have to hand enter the data in CAD? Depending on your integration, you may have to upgrade other system to support it. Keep that in mind.

        3. Mapping and Data. Your department and city sound small enough that you do not have a GIS department. Addressing is a VERY important part of not only correctly identifying and verifying the 911 caller inside your CAD system, but also routing or mapping in you units. You might want to check with your county or state and see if they can supply the underlying street data. My community is constantly growing and adding streets. We update our CAD street data monthly as well as the units.

        3. Laptops, there are many choices here and thoughts. We've used Panasonic Toughbooks since 1998. They are expensive, but they take a beating and run the applications that are not available for iPads or tablets. We use cellular for our communications and AT&T has been very good to us. We cover over 101 sq miles so vendor coverage is a major factor when selecting a Cell provider, I would use the word wireless, because people confuse it with Wifi. Wifi works when the rig is at the station, but you need some other communications when out and about. Why not create our own wireless system, well its 101 sq miles and that's a lot to cover. The other reason is technology leap frogging itself. We started many years ago with CDPD and now use LTE. Our cost to move from technology to technology has been minimal, due to the fact that AT&T replaced most of our hardware with each jump in technology. Information changes on the way to a call and your CAD needs to update the trucks enroute. The inside of fire trucks get HOT, very hot. So when picking a solution one needs to keep that in mind. An iPad will thermal shutdown at 98 degrees. I say that because, I just left a truck setting in the bay and the temp in the cab was 110. It was in the shade, but the outside temp here is 100 and the unit had just returned from a run and heat was coming up through the dog house. If the iPad shuts down, you don't have time to wait for it to cool and reboot. I've never had a Panasonic shut down because of heat, now if the guys don't dock it correctly and the battery runs down, that's another story. Also, big trucks don't ride like a sedan. They bounce and shake down the road, so screen size it important to be able to read while going down the road. Wet bunker coats and gloves get tossed in the truck, so remember that as you plan for mobile devices. The Android devices are cheap but finding the right vendor that supports such hardware is limited at this time. Maybe in a year or more there will be more options.

        5. AVL, if you plan to use your CAD for more than FD, then you might want to consider AVL. We dispatch units based on GPS location. If a unit is out flowing hydrants or running errands, then CAD will initial assign the closest unit. The dispatcher always has the ability to over ride that if they wish. Based on call location and problem nature the CAD system will assign police and fire units. We don't have it yet in place, but you can also setup AVL to show all of the units responding and the units see each other. Great when more than one unit is approaching an intersection or fighting grass fires.

        6. Fireman Proof, don't laugh. These systems have to work every time and work without your firefighters having to fumble with the laptop or the software. This might be one of the most important feature of any system, the end users experience. If it does not work perfect 99.9999% of the time, then the troops don't rely on the hardware or in the information presented. Your seasoned firefighters are more reluctant to use or trust in such a system, but your younger firefighters want more and more from these types of systems.

        There are solutions where you can send a page to a cell phone and it present a google map of that call, cadpage is one. Using other tools like google latitude, you can see the other units in the area. I've been working on a project to identify these "cost less" solutions for smaller agencies, but that project is just off the burner.

        Good luck and if you have any questions please let us know.

        Mark Voyles
        Technology Coordinator
        Edmond Fire Department
        Edmond, OK


        • #5
          Good responses. We've been running toughbooks on our CAD but are currently researching tablets in our county due to cost issues. Toughbooks are too damn expensive and since these units stay in the rigs they do not need to be that rugged. We could buy 7 tablets for the cost of one Toughbook.


          • #6
            I think using CAD system on smartphone and tablet is more powerful because you can get all information and tasks done anywhere anytime without having to go back to the truck. It is also cheaper to get the system installed with tablet compares to Toughbook. For example, Amherst and Bedford Fire Department are replacing their ruggedize MDT with iPad and iPhone using PublicEye software. It would normally cost around around $5000-$5600 per truck for each new Toughbook (not including power converters, mounting gear, and installation cost). Instead, the Bedford Fire Department only spent around $24,000 for 8 iPads with power converters and accessories cost included. No installation cost needed because they can take it with them anywhere anytime.

            I recommend PublicEye for your CAD system. Some features that PublicEye provides are accessing to 911 calls detail, building pre-plan, GPS unit location, fire hydrants location, reporting tools and more.
            Link: http://www.publiceyes.com


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