Traditionally, two-way radio users contact each other by pressing the push-to-talk (PTT) button on the side of the radio and speaking through the microphone or through a remote speaker microphone worn on the shoulder. They can instantly initiate an individual call to a colleague or a group call to a team of people – and instantly communicate a message, ask a question or give an instruction.
But there is a key element of this operational group that doesn’t use a radio to communicate – they use a computer based radio dispatcher – the control room operator.
A computer based radio dispatcher or integrated command and control system is a software application that enables a control room operator to communicate with people using two-way radios. The software application is installed on a stand-alone computer, and by using speakers and a microphone or an audio headset, enables an operator to talk directly to individuals or groups without the need of a two-way radio device.
Radio dispatching software packages can be entry level voice only or, support text messaging, display GPS locations of radio users, record voice calls and messages, coordinate response teams from a central point, and can link different radio networks across wide areas to create dynamic groups in times of emergencies.
Radio dispatchers have been developed for use with professional two-way radio communications systems and provide a vital set of features for control room operators to ensure efficient communications. The radio dispatcher typically has the highest priority on the two-way radio network enabling the control room operator to manage communications between teams in everyday operations but particularly in emergency situations and times of intense pressure.
During an emergency incident, for example, the evacuation of a building caused by a fire alarm or a lock-down invacuation caused by an external attack on a building or campus, the radio dispatcher becomes the vital asset in situational co-ordination. The inbuilt mapping application enables the operator to see the location of radio users and immediately take control.
The most important thing in an emergency is situational awareness, communications and control. The radio dispatcher has all the information and skills to ensure a smooth operation is achieved. And in the post-event scenario management teams can review all communications and instructions in order to develop processes for the future.
6 September 2017