Dispatching solutions have quickly moved from hardware-based racks of proprietary equipment in a centralized location to software-based systems that connect using an IP backbone. This change has the potential to provide levels of interconnectivity that was not previously possible. In this series of three blog posts leading up to IWCE, we will explain what IP means for dispatching and the features a professional dispatching solution should contain to realize the potential of an IP based solution.
We tend to talk about interoperability with a phrase we first heard from one of our enterprise level customers: “Any-to-Any”. In other words, this customer wanted to connect any endpoint device to any dispatcher at any time. Over time we have realized that this is a theme among the majority of our customers, and we have taken steps to position our Scout console as the IP dispatch solution of choice for these environments.
In each post we will explain the concept and what best practices in IP dispatching should include. We will focus mainly on the technology and try to be objective in my explanations. We will conclude each post with a brief overview of how Avtec’s Scout console adheres to these best practices.
Any Endpoint Device
To break down this phrase, we first examine what is meant by Any Endpoint Device. An endpoint device can be a radio, and that radio could be on any frequency. It may be a land mobile radio, or an air-to-ground radio. It may be an analog radio, or a digital radio. It may be a P25 radio that is part of either a trunked or conventional system. It may be a radio based on a newer DMR technology, like MOTOTRBO from Motorola, or NXDN technologies like ICOM IDAS or Kenwood NeXedge. That endpoint may also be a telephone. It may be a POTS telephone line from a central office or a SIP telephone extension from an IP PBX. All of these endpoint devices represent a channel of communication needed by an organization to conduct their day-to-day business and must be available to the dispatcher in a seamless interface where patches and conferences can be created and torn down as needed.
But in an IP world, an Endpoint Device can be more than just a voice channel. An Endpoint can be any IP connected device. Web objects that give the dispatcher access to work instructions or weather reports or maps can be considered a type of endpoint. IP cameras can be considered endpoints. These cameras may be positioned at a courthouse, a treasury building, a park or street, or even a high school. These cameras could be part of a closed network, or publically available on the Internet. To provide the highest level of access, these IP connected devices should support open standards. Auxiliary I/O can also be considered an endpoint. Combining endpoints, a dispatcher can check a camera before unlocking a door.
“Any Endpoint Device” is really a shorthand way of saying “any piece of information, whether it is voice, data, video, or a combination of these, which may be of benefit to the dispatcher to help them work more efficiently and with greater accuracy.” While there are practical and financial limits to what can be achieved, organizations can now analyze these tradeoffs and construct a system that best meets their needs. An IP based dispatching system, especially one based on open standards, moves us closer to “Any Endpoint Device” interconnectivity than has been previously possible.
In our next two posts, we will explore the phrases “Any Dispatcher” and “Any Time”.
Avtec’s Scout console has more advanced interfaces than any other console, thus bringing us closer to meeting the “any endpoint device” standard than any other solution. In addition to radio and telephone endpoints, the dispatcher interface is completely customizable, including the ability to add web objects, endpoint devices, and auxiliary I/O controls as described in this post.