By Bryan Boggiano
The city commissions of Coral Springs, Parkland, and Coconut Creek met with county and public safety representatives to discuss a possible hub system, which would make the 911 call system more efficient by streamlining information sharing and reducing response times.
The multi-agency workshop on Wednesday featured a presentation from Emerging Digital Communications President Chris Wiseman and Greg Criter, chief technology officer.
Kathy Liriano, CSPD communications center manager, also presented.
She stated interoperability would allow dispatchers to share information more efficiently between agencies and reduce 911 wait times.
Liriano reviewed the current process, stating that when somebody calls 911, their call goes to a public safety answering point (PSAP). The dispatcher then enters information such as the address and the nature of the call into a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system.
Coral Springs, Parkland, and Coconut Creek-based calls go to Coral Springs’s dispatch center.
In Parkland, police calls go to the dispatch center, but they must be transferred to BSO. To do this, Coral Springs dispatch goes over BSO radio. Landline calls in Parkland do not go to Coral Springs.
She also explained that cell phone and landline calls may not always be received at the correct dispatch location. 911 calls from cell phones are picked up by the nearest cell phone tower, which then goes to the nearest PSAP. When these calls are made near a city boundary, the call could go to a city where the emergency is not happening.
Calls would then have to be transferred. When this happens, a caller has to repeat their information to another dispatcher.
“This is not a Broward County issue, this is a national issue, and this is worth the technology,” Liriano said.
Coral Springs would use a hub solution called NG-CAD-X to fill in the gaps. While Coral Springs purchased the technology in 2020, the system is not live. Coconut Creek is on board with the system, meaning their calls are received in Coral Springs.
Parkland’s fire and medical services calls go to Coral Springs but not police.
The county, however, must also be on board with the solution.
Luciano stated that Coral Springs is also trying to bring other cities on board for the hub system to go live.
Michael Ruiz, the assistant county administrator, stated the county is working on upgrading technology to their system so they can launch in a safe, secure way. He said that factors such as supply chain issues led to delays.
The new system would not transfer the caller to another dispatcher. Rather, it would transfer the content that the dispatcher enters.
The communication would not be from CAD to CAD. Rather, the CAD would go to a hub, and this information would be communicated to all other CADs in the hub. This means that different PSAPs will get the same information.
For this system, the call taker creates an incident reporter in their own CAD system. The system automatically transfers this information to the appropriate PSAP for dispatching by the correct agency.
The call taker would continue updating the CAD with information, and the dispatching agency would dispatch based on the CAD data. Throughout the process, the caller remains on the same line as the original PSAP.
According to officials, the advantages of a consolidated hub solution include dispatching assistance from the nearest unit, expanding resource bases, and improving coordination and awareness.
Each PSAP will continue using its own CAD system, allowing for continued use of each center’s local unit identifiers, unit statuses, event types and determinant codes, and location premise names.
Coral Springs Mayor Scott Brook, Parkland Mayor Rich Walker, and Coconut Creek City Commissioner Becky Tooley all expressed approval of the Coral Springs system. They implored the county and other cities to get on board with the hub solution to make the system go live.
“The hub solution, obviously, makes all of us a bit safer, Walker said.
When Brook asked EDC what the system’s downsides were, Walker replied, “the downside is not doing it.”
Walker urged the county to get on board, stating that it was “mind-boggling” that the same conversations were going on for almost four years.
Tooley said since Coconut Creek joined the Coral Springs system and left BSO’s system, the 911 response became more efficient.
“Since we’ve been with Coral Springs, we have cut our response time by almost two minutes,” she said. “That saves lives.”
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- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan is pursuing his masters in geosciences at Florida International University. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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