Building the Case to Upgrade Emergency Communications Center
Garbled transmissions, dropped calls, frozen computer screens, and an operations center that is dated and not keeping up with the times. If your PSAP is displaying any of these symptoms – it may be time for an upgrade. That said, rallying support for updates to a room few ever see, can leave your team struggling to find enough evidence to support your position that change is warranted. So now your challenge is duo fold, we not only need to decide what to change, we need to determine the factors and establish our proposition to the stakeholders and get buy in that change is necessity.
While the outlook might seem grim, all is not lost. Before you abandon your thinking, it’s time to examine some talking points that can help you present a clear and compelling case to your department’s decision-makers.
Enhanced Response Capabilities
Of all the reasons to leverage in your case for a new communications center, expanding capabilities should be at the top of the list. Why? In the age of instant gratification—first responders need to know everything and they need to know it now!
Information gathering, response coordination, and on-scene collaboration rely on streamlined communications, constant situational awareness, and the ability to navigate unforeseen challenges quickly. With that in mind, innovative advances in telephone, radio, CAD, and mobile technologies will become the tactical tools of tomorrow. And without them, your department will be at a distinct disadvantage.
When assessing your PSAPs capabilities, it’s essential to evaluate whether your current systems support interoperable communications, real-time updates, Next Generation 9-1-1, regional information sharing, and mobile command connectivity. Although these things may not feel like an absolute requirement now, access to instant awareness, collective intelligence, and up-to-the-minute scene conditions better enable first responders in the field to stay safe and save lives during a disaster.
Remember, the best time to evaluate your resources is before you need them. After all, when it comes to managing emergency communications and keeping your community safe, you can never be too prepared.
Improved Productivity and Increased Uptime
Moving on to the business issues, it’s time to address productivity and maintenance costs. Older and obsolete programs can cause more than headaches. When you stop to look at the numbers, duplicate data entry, system errors, and time spent waiting for information to load, it can all add up quickly, resulting in a massive number of hours in unrecoverable wages and lost productivity for both communications personnel and other first responders.
Not to mention, equipment failures and inadequate support often lead to unacceptable outages and unnecessary downtime waiting for maintenance and repair. Compound the equipment costs and administrative handling fees with these failures and your headaches are now fraught with extra financial burden.
While these issues might seem like minor inconveniences to those who work outside your office, it’s up to you to convey the most important cost of all. Human life. When every second counts, your department and municipality have a societal responsibility to provide responders with the right tools and equipment to protect themselves and care for their community.
Healthy and Compliant Workplaces
Last but not least, let’s tackle employee well-being. Emergency communications is a demanding and stressful field. Every year longer hours, hectic schedules, and emotionally demanding events contribute to the astronomical turnover rate in this business. Not only is this frustrating, but it also drains your resources and leaves the department overworked and understaffed. And while an upgraded communication center can’t fix all these problems alone, making your employees comfortable can boost their overall satisfaction and job performance.
Think about it. Sitting for excessive periods of time can leave employees vulnerable to a plethora of circulatory issues and back pain. While in the same respect, poor monitor placement may lead to eye strain, migraine headaches, or even nerve damage. If your department is looking for ways to cut costs and improve morale, investing in new sit-to-stand consoles and ergonomically designed workstations can help eliminate these on-the-job injuries, providing a better work environment and encouraging healthier lifestyles.
Equally important is the issue of inclusion. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide fair access to employees with limited mobility. Aside from staying on the right side of federal compliance standards, adhering to this practice will help your department stand out and be seen as a caring and responsible employer.
So, there you have it — three ironclad reasons for building a case to upgrade your communications center. Keep in mind, first-line employees can often supply you with additional details to support your case. Moving forward, make a note of all equipment malfunctions and communications issues. And above all, remember to research federal grants and finance programs to assist you with funding and equipment options. Although these steps might be tedious, when it comes to creating an open and shut case, you can bet the benefits will outweigh the costs.
By: Tom Giles
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