Grand Rapids upgrades dispatch
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Jun 22, 2001
The city of Grand Rapids, Mich., recently awarded VisionAir Inc. a $1.5
million contract to create a state-of-the art, integrated computer-aided
dispatch system for its police and fire departments.
According to Duane Miller, an account executive with the North Carolina-based
software company, the new system will enable fire and police dispatchers
to share information from the same system. Police officers and firefighters
also will be able to use it to communicate in the field.
Miller said that because the current system is outdated, communications
between the departments suffer. He expects the VisionAir system to go live
in late summer.
With the new system, dispatchers will be able to view details about
calls as well as the status of all units. The system also can merge calls
together. For instance, if the system receives three calls within a certain
radius reporting three similar incidents, the system would alert units that
they might be dealing with a single incident. It also alerts responding
units to other critical information, such as prior calls to an address,
warrant information and nearby hazards.
Grand Rapids will outfit about 160 police and fire vehicles with wireless
mobile units that will enable officers and firefighters to communicate with
one another and with central dispatch while accessing information from local,
state and national databases. Miller said automatic vehicle locators will
be installed later for real-time location of the city's public safety units.
The fire department also will get a new electronic records management
system, which will adhere to the National Fire Incident Reporting System,
a national database of fire statistics and incident reports. The records
system will contain information such as hydrant checks and fire-alarm testing,
The system can be outfitted for municipalities of any size — from two
to 200 workstations, Miller said. The company has 200 such systems across
With 387 uniformed officers and 100 civilian employees, Grand Rapids
has the second-largest police department in Michigan, serving a population
of 200,000. Annually, its police respond to about 350,000 emergency and
nonemergency calls. The fire department has 260 full- and part-time employees,
who respond to about 20,000 calls a year.