(January 4, 2018) Frisco residents, businesses and visitors are safer thanks to a new software system designed to reduce response times of first responders by as much as thirty percent. The ‘Closest To’ dispatch system automatically chooses the best, ‘closest’ resources available for high priority incidents.
The ‘Closest To’ system integrates Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) data with the city’s public safety dispatch system. Frisco Police, Fire, IT, and Engineering Services departments worked with Integrated Computer Systems, Inc. (ICS) to develop the system.
“In working together, we have implemented a system that will provide a tremendous safety benefit to the citizens of Frisco,” said Chief John Bruce, Frisco Police. “We are also grateful for the grant funding from North Texas Council of Governments (NTCOG) to make this project possible.”
The NTCOG provided the City of Frisco more than $330,000 in grant monies for the dispatch system. In June, Frisco approved an agreement with ICS. The system went ‘live’ in November.
David Shilson, Deputy Police Chief credits Brian Moen, Assistant Director of Engineering Services/Transportation with alerting the city to the grant possibility. Chief Shilson says ‘Closest To’ started as a team effort seeking a Roadway Incident Management grant. Such funds developed a system to help clear roadways faster following accidents, return traffic flow ‘back to normal’ and, as a result, move first responders out of danger, or ‘harm’s way’, sooner.
But as system development evolved, staff recognized the opportunity to innovate a ‘Closest To’ system versus the previous dispatch structure which assigned units to service calls based on bordered districts. Today, dispatchers appreciate how ‘Closest To’ shows distance, speed limits and barriers – an impossibility with the previous system.
“'Closest To’ allows us (dispatchers) to move calls in the mapping software to a more accurate location for the caller and route the units to that location,” said Suzanne Kaletta, Supervisor, FPD Communications division.
“This is especially helpful when responding to a location with a great deal of variability, such as a sporting venue. The system also allows for altering the resources that respond on medical calls based on the severity of the emergency and the proximity of the fire units to the scene.”
Chief Mark Piland says the ‘Closest To’ system has allowed ambulances to respond without being accompanied by a fire engine on 102 calls for service since November. Chief Piland says it improves efficiency, saving on the ‘wear and tear’ of equipment, but more importantly, it allows engines to be available for higher priority calls.
“’Closest To’ dispatch allows the Fire Department greater flexibility and efficiency,” said Chief Mark Piland, Frisco Fire Department. “It sends the closest unit and also allows us to use of the most appropriate fire and EMS resources.”