Oakland Fire

Oakland Fire Department

The Oakland Fire Department (OFD) provides services to over 400,000 residents of Oakland, California, covering an area of 78 square miles.

The Challenge

Historically, Oakland Fire relied on a private narrowband data system using Motorola DataTAC and RDLAP which was sufficient for the legacy CAD and AVL systems but could not support the next generation wireless data applications available to first responders today. With the infrastructure in place, Oakland Fire was only able to access low bandwidth applications that provided rudimentary status updates and text messaging. In many cases, first responders had come to rely on physical maps with their own notes throughout in order to locate calls and navigate through city streets. In order to integrate with new technologies, it was necessary to find a solution that would provide higher bandwidth and additional capabilities for emergency response vehicles. Starting in 2010, Oakland Fire drafted comprehensive plans in order to secure funding for a high-bandwidth infrastructure, based on multi-network broadband routers, that would pave the way for future applications for dispatch, mapping and VPN, and provide greater situational awareness. High configurability was crucial to an upgraded infrastructure that would integrate seamlessly into existing network topologies, while allowing evolution for increased monitoring and control requirements. “The ability to bridge between our legacy networks and 4G LTE was crucial to the decision,” said Ahsan Baig, Division Manager, Public Safety Services, Information Technology Department, City of Oakland. “ We needed a platform that would let us add functionality on an ongoing basis.”

The Solution

In 2014, Oakland Fire deployed 65 CalAmp Fusion™ routers, equipped with Verizon B13, WiFi, and GPS, to support various client-server and web-based applications for fire rescue and EMS. The majority of the units deployed have one Verizon module plus WiFi, providing one LTE data line to the vehicle. The supervisory and command vehicles are equipped with dual WAN, using two Verizon data connections to provide a secure data line separate from the vehicle internet access. All the Fusion units can be upgraded, if necessary, to provide additional capabilities. Along with legacy dispatch and AVL applications, Fusion supports modern applications such as Motorola Premier CAD and Zoll FRMS, which Oakland uses for secure fire dispatch and status updates. First responders can now locate calls with a graphical map on a laptop in the vehicle. Fusion integrates with the GIS system that Oakland Fire shares with the Port of Oakland, providing occupancy and other information on the map using Esri<sup>®</sup> mapping software. Fusion provides Oakland Fire first responders with access to additional resources that provide building plans, fire records, inspection reports, patient care history and other databases via 4G LTE. Through the creation of a vehicle area network (VAN), the Fusion acts as a mobile hotspot that extends network access to local tablets and other handheld devices.


With Fusion routers in place, Oakland Fire is in a position to work with emerging technologies. “The Fusion units provide a platform that supports our current needs as well as additional capabilities we might need in the future,” said Stewart McGehee, Division Manager, Medical Services Division, Oakland Fire Department. “If we get a grant for a new application or solution, we now have the infrastructure to put it in place.” For Fire and EMS, Fusion provides enhanced situational awareness, from building plans to patient care information. Through integration with Oakland’s GIS system, Fusion provides situational awareness to the Emergency Operations Center for the Port of Oakland area and anywhere city traffic cameras are located, via imaging and Esri mapping software. This solution gives Fire and EMS units advance information about what to expect when they arrive at a scene so that they can ensure their own safety and respond more effectively. Fusion helps EMS first responders give more effective and rapid care at a scene by providing patient care history information over 4G from the laptop in the vehicle, or from a tablet or other WiFi-equipped device outside the vehicle via the VAN.