Zetron’s Series 4000 dispatch system was recently installed at the Cheektowaga, New York, communication center. The system is delivering the updated features and functionality the agency was looking for in a solution that is also cost-effective and easy to use.
When it comes to communications technology, it’s easy to underestimate the value of equipment that is simple to program, learn and use. But in a busy public safety answering point (PSAP), simplicity is a top consideration. When equipment is easy to learn, dispatchers can ramp up quickly and do their jobs accurately and without undue focus on the technology. This results in faster response times—something all PSAPs strive for. When the equipment is easy to program and administer, minor changes can be handled in-house and on the fly, without requiring expensive service calls.
These are some of the reasons why Cheektowaga, New York, decided to equip their new communication center with Zetron’s Series 4000 dispatch system.
From crabapples to suburbs
Cheektowaga takes its name from an Iroquoian word that means “the place of the crabapple tree.” Although it was originally a rural farming community, Cheektowaga underwent extensive development in the post-war boom of the 1950s, and is now the second-largest suburb of Buffalo, New York. With a population of about 88,000 and an area of 29.6 square miles, Cheektowaga averages 3,187 people per square mile. (By comparison, Clinton County, which is also featured in this issue, averages only about 43 people per square mile.)
The Cheektowaga communication center
The Cheektowaga communication center provides dispatching for the town’s police department, ambulance, and 12 fire districts. They also answer 9-1-1 calls that originate from landline phones. (9-1-1 calls originating from cell phones are answered by the county PSAP.)
Paul Hockwater, the center’s senior public-safety dispatcher, explains why they decided to obtain and install a new dispatch system. “We were building a new town court that included an entirely new 9-1-1 dispatch center with updated furniture and other new communications equipment. We also needed to add more operator positions to our dispatch system, and our existing equipment wouldn’t support that. So we decided to make a new dispatch system part of the communication center project.”
Picking the Series 4000
Zetron reseller, Saia Communications, helped Cheektowaga select their new dispatch equipment. “Saia is our long-time equipment and maintenance provider,” says Hockwater. “They’ve been doing our radio work for over 20 years, and we have a very good relationship with them. They’re also right down the street from us, so they’re able to respond quickly when we need them.”
The project was put out for bid, and two manufacturers responded. One bid was from the manufacturer of their existing system; the other was from Zetron. Because Saia was installing a Zetron Series 4000 system for a customer nearby, they invited Hockwater and other representatives from Cheektowaga to look at the system.
“When we saw the Zetron system, it was obvious that it was much easier to use than the other system we were considering,” says Hockwater. “We have 28 dispatchers who would all have to get up to speed on the new equipment quickly, so the Zetron console’s ease of use was a real plus. Because much of our dispatching is for our city fire departments, we also need a system that will be able to support us in that. The Zetron system met this requirement as well.”
The Series 4000 also came in at a better price than the competitor’s system. In these days of tightening budgets, cost-effectiveness is a key concern for public-safety agencies. So even though it meant switching manufacturers, it wasn’t much of a contest. Cheektowaga chose a six-position Zetron Series 4000 dispatch system for their new communication center.
A seamless transition
The implementation of the new dispatch system took place from about mid-March to early April of 2012. Because the system was being installed in a new center that wasn’t yet operational, it was a relatively uncomplicated process that didn’t interrupt the agency’s routine operations.
“Their dispatchers kept working in the old space while we installed the new equipment in the new center,” says Saia project manager, Chris Krzemien. “Once we got one of the new consoles up and running, we kept running the old system and brought the dispatchers over one at a time to introduce them to the new console and its features. When the day arrived to make the final cutover, the dispatchers left their old consoles and went into the new center and started using the new consoles. It was seamless.”
Door controls and panic buttons
Several important security features were added to Cheektowaga’s Series 4000. Icons added to the console screens allow dispatchers to control doors and gates in the garage where prisoner are first brought to the facility. “Panic buttons” were installed in the town’s two courtrooms, in the chambers of its two judges, and in the office of the town clerk. The panic buttons are linked to the console system so that when a button is pushed, an alert is sent to the console screens, prompting dispatchers to send help immediately to the scene.
The Series 4000 delivers
Cheektowaga’s Series 4000 has been running for almost a year, and in that time, it has been tested and proven. “We’ve had some crazy police and fire-related incidents,” says Hockwater. “And even during those busy times, the system has performed very well.”
“The Series 4000 is also easy to use, easy to train people on, and easy to manage,” Hockwater continues. “Our operators are able to catch onto it very quickly. And I make most of the programming changes myself when we need them and without requiring a service call. The system’s easy programming minimizes our down time and cuts our maintenance costs.”
From all accounts, Cheektowaga’s Series 4000 is not only performing up to expectations, but delivering amply on the qualities for which it was originally chosen.