GPS anyone? DFD doesn’t have it.

I was talking to a Dayton fireman the other evening and asked about GPS in their vehicles. Guess what? They don’t have them. Now, I know the city pretty well, but, when lives are at stake, and I might be working in a part of the city I’m not familiar with- wouldn’t it be handy to use GPS instead of a map, or have to ask for directions?
GPS units can be had for less than $100 these days.
Can any of our City Employees explain why GPS isn’t in every emergency response vehicle?
What about other local municipalities?
Shouldn’t our brand new dispatch center have the ability to send the address directly to a GPS unit in the response vehicle?

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6 Responses

  1. DB April 11, 2009 / 10:48 am
    DFD stresses the knowledge of streets to it’s members, in fact it is a common training topic. The members of the fire dept make so many runs that they quickly become familiar with streets and some are even good enough to know what part of the street the address is on. Each DFD apparatus has a computer called an MDC, which displays information about the run assigned to that apparatus. Instead of buying seperate GPS systems, which are easily stolen from vehicles left unattended at the hospital, the MDC are capable of displaying a map with the address highlighted. This technology is in use by several departments, and Dayton is rumored to have but just not use it. The computer system used by the fire dept. is very old and antiquated . The entire computer system needs overhauled, but of course that takes money and Dayton would rather waste it on fighting the residency rule. Trust that the members of DFD do an outstanding job of quickly and efficiently making to the scene.
  2. David Esrati April 11, 2009 / 11:11 am

    I understand knowledge of streets- if you’ve ever been to London, you’ll see people out learning London to become a taxi driver. It’s a full year of training first.
    However, GPS is a technology that can allow you to concentrate on other things while driving.
    I received an e-mail from an Englewood cop about this- and am posting it:

    I work for Englewood PD and made the same comment about 3 years ago. Why should consumers have access to technology that public safety does not? One of the reasons we are not involved in the Regional Dispatch Center is because we are light years ahead in adapting technology compared to others. Mobile mapping is just one of those areas. We are using software from a Columbus based company (DDTI) in our MDTs that mimics the same mapping used our dispatchers in our communication center. Dispatchers have the ability to “send” addresses to the cruisers. Once the address has been received in the cruiser, the software plots the fastest course to the address and provides audible and visual directions on the way. Since the GIS data is point based, when the software tells you to “turn right”, you turn right! The cruisers are also equipped with vehicle locators so that the dispatchers know where everyone is. The software will alert the dispatcher as to which cruiser(s) is closest.
    Long story short, the software is out there and it is not that terribly expensive. It is certainly more efficient and safer than pulling out a map book and driving with your knee.

    Sounds like something that should be available. I know my way around the city pretty well- and I’ve been amazed at the different routes that my GPS suggests- they are sometimes faster and easier.

  3. Mike April 11, 2009 / 11:33 am
    Good point. There is no reason that consumers should have access to technology that public safety does not. Especially technology that is affordable. At least two area departments use mobile mapping on their in car computers in conjunction with automatic vehicle location systems. Incidents are sent from the dispatchers to the field units and the directions are given with audible and visual indicators. Although personnel know every street in their jurisdiction, having a computer tell you a house is 300 feet ahead on the left in stormy weather or directions to an address in an unknown jurisdiction can, IMO, be a valuable asset.
  4. Larkin April 13, 2009 / 4:47 pm
    I’ve seen GPS units in Dayton PD cruisers. At night time, you can see the familiar glow. Are these units purchased by the officers themselves, or is the PD up on something the FD is not privy to? The Deputy Fire Chief in Middletown is a good friend; he never goes anywhere without the GPS unit. 
  5. DB April 14, 2009 / 9:41 am
    That “familiar glow” is not GPS, it is the glow from the MDT’s. Just like the fire dept. the PD have these in every unit, it is similar to a laptop computer and displays various information from the dispatchers.

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