The Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority is the communications center between the citizens, visitors and public safety agencies of Ottawa County and provides an effective method of accessing emergency services through professional and courteous public safety communication and dispatch services for the sheriff, police, ambulance and fire departments.
Ottawa County Central Dispatch has relied on CalAmp solutions since 2001. Although the existing CalAmp private narrowband radio technology was sufficient for older applications the new Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) software was scheduled to be implemented which required Ottawa County to explore solutions that would provide them with higher bandwidth and greater functionality for its sheriff and police patrol vehicles and other emergency response vehicles. The solution had to be B14 capable, yet backward-compatible with existing infrastructure to provide reliable connectivity and a smooth transition. Part of Ottawa County’s strong desire to work with CalAmp was its successful track record with CalAmp’s data radio solutions during the previous 14 years. “When we were ready to massively upgrade our technology, we were very comfortable turning to CalAmp,” said Mark A. Jongekrijg, Ottawa County’s Data and Radio Systems Manager. Despite Ottawa County’s comfort level with CalAmp as a vendor, Ottawa County went through a testing phase in which they tested CalAmp’s Fusion multi-network LTE router along with another competitive solution. In order to fairly test the two solutions, the Ottawa team mounted both solutions at different times in patrol vehicles. In each vehicle, either the CalAmp Fusion or the competitive router was tested for a two-week period. Each unit was then switched out for the alternative for an additional two weeks of testing. This provided both CalAmp and the competitive solution testing in equivalent conditions and the opportunity for officers to test the routers in the field and with their live applications.
Ottawa County chose CalAmp on the basis of features such as GPS routing and more flexible configurability, as well as a long history with CalAmp. “The trial with CalAmp was outstandingly successful,” commented Jongekrijg regarding the testing phase of the selection process. As a result, Ottawa County installed CalAmp Fusion 4G LTE routers in approximately 150 law enforcement vehicles including marine vessels used in the patrol of Lake Michigan. With its ability to provide concurrent wireless data connectivity over dual public and private LTE cellular networks, such as FirstNet, with fail-over capability to eliminate a single point of failure, Fusion provides simultaneous support of both public cellular and state-of-the-art private LTE networks. In addition, the technology paves the way for Ottawa County to make a smooth transition to the FirstNet network once available. “Fusion was compatible with the CalAmp units that we’re replacing, which means that we didn’t need to change our existing software configuration,” said Jongekrijg. “Being able to keep the current character ID system made the solution much more cost effective since we didn’t need to reconfigure our messaging switch but more importantly minimized the chance that there would be issues once the Fusions were live in the field.”
“With the Fusion, we are looking toward the future knowing that these changes in technology such as CAD upgrades and new records management software were coming,” commented Jongekrijg. With 150 Fusion broadband routers currently deployed, Ottawa County is well poised to seamlessly integrate the new CAD software scheduled for implementation and take advantage of all the key features that require high-bandwidth connectivity. The Fusion will enable police officers to access resources in the field, including the prior history of calls at a dispatch address. With Fusion now deployed, vehicles can become a true network extension to headquarters and provide fast, reliable and high-resolution access to resources and applications that were previously unavailable in the field. This provides improved situational awareness between incident command, 911 dispatch and first responders in the field.