Our 911 Emergency Communications Facility
The City of Victoria's 911 Center is the primary Public Safety Answering Point for Victoria County and houses rooms for the Motorola and Computer Aided Dispatch servers. Our Center has been remodeled over the years and now is a locked facility not open to the public. Our 911 Operators work 12 hour shifts and they work 4 days on and 4 days off. Since a 911 facility cannot close for holidays or other events, our dispatchers often have to work weekends and holidays.
911 Operators at the Victoria Police Department answer calls for service for the City of Victoria Police and Fire Departments. The TCOs then dispatch these calls for service through our radio system. Our Center handles an average of over 5,000 calls through 911 per month as well as approximately 10,000 other calls for service each month on the alternate telephone lines.
911 Emergency Radio Communications
Public safety communications continue to evolve today as more challenging user requirements and technology considerations put pressure on municipalities and their local public safety organizations to enhance and improve their systems. The origins of public safety radio systems rest with traditional analog radio systems and the historical allocations for public safety radio are based on the use of analog technologies. However, recent efforts at improving efficiency have focused on migrating to digital techniques as an effective way of improving spectral efficiency without increasing overall bandwidth or reducing the quality of public safety communications.
In 2010-2011, radio communications for the City of Victoria transformed to digital technology by changing from 800 MHz radios to a digital radio system. This was in order to meet FCC narrowbanding mandates. The last major update prior to this was in 2001 when the 800 MHz system was installed.
Mobile Data for Public Safety
Law enforcement agencies, fire, and EMS services thrive on information -- they need it to respond, anticipate what they'll encounter on-scene, and predict trends and patterns. In the "old" days, information was gathered by officers in the field, transmitted to others via paper notes, reports and other notations, and then filed in metal cabinets. Now, of course, the computer has taken over most of the data collection, transmission, dissemination and storage duties.
In the 1990s, commercial applications of data began to bloom, especially among package delivery and service companies who needed to dispatch their fleets. Consumer applications for mobile data began to appear, in the form of alphanumeric pagers, PDAs and even wireless phones. Slowly, the link between the radio systems and terminals was broken--companies began providing mobile data radio networks for a fee, and other companies began to specialize in terminals, mounting hardware, and software applications (including in-field reporting, records management and links to CAD).
As part of the communications enhancement, mobile data terminals were installed in Victoria Police Department vehicles. This gives the officer the ability to enter license information, reports, and other data directly into the information system network. It speeds the communications connection by putting information directly at the officer's fingertips.
Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD)
Like corporate America, communications centers have experienced many upgrades to keep their technology fresh. The cycle seems endless -- move from mainframes to mini-computers, then to client-server systems, then to network computers. The trend now is for computer-aided dispatch to run on client personal computers under the Windows operating system, with data and external links managed by a server. More and more interfaces are becoming graphical, and most now require a mouse to move around the screen. Many CAD programs now have mapping as an integrated feature.
Many of our staff have mastered several different computer systems. In continuing this automation trend, the CAD system we used since 2001 was replaced in 2011.