Discussing Hexagon Safety and Infrastructure’s release of a new version of their industry leading computer-aided dispatch software, CAD 9.4.
Welcome to HxGN Radio. I’m your host Laura Beth Ezzell. What’s new in CAD? Well it’s a question many want to know. Hexagon Safety and Infrastructure just released a new version of their industry leading computer-aided dispatch software, CAD 9.4. Today I’m joined by Pete Crosbie who is the project manager for CAD and Interfaces, and Gina Stedman who is Hexagon SI’s mobility product manager for public safety.
Laura Beth: Thank you both for joining me today. Alright so it’s been 2 years since the last CAD version was released. What was the focus leading up to this new release?
Pete: Yeah. But we’re probably looking at improvements to improve the speed of response and make more efficient use of resources. But more specifically I think we were focusing in on new enhancements to help with large events and incident command management and some increase in efficiency on the mobile and web side Gina, and enhanced call handling especially on a the texting side. And then also this release is a platform to some new innovation products that are going to be coming in over the coming months.
Laura Beth: What are some of the key features that you needed to be a part of this new release?
Pete: Yeah. So we mentioned large events and incident commands. So we have done a few things, some new things and some things that customers have been asking for for quite awhile. We’ve added a new staging capability that allows you to create staged events that are associated to the main event. So often times an agency doesn’t want to dispatch directly to event location. They want to have areas adjacent to the actual event location where they might want to do something like traffic control or incident command post or an EMS triage location. So we’ve added that and support throughout the products.
Gina: Yeah from a mobility perspective it was important for us for the staging areas to be able to manage those staging areas from mps. So we added the capability to create staging areas and manipulate units once they’re assigned to the call which is an important feature for us.
Pete: Another area that we focused on quite a lot in releases is how do we make sure that the important information is clear to the people who need to use because obviously first responders and dispatchers are working in a very stressful environment with lots of things going on. And one of the areas that’s a problem is event remarks because they get so many entries added to an event, especially on a busy event and you want some way to highlight the important information. So when the dispatchers are looking at an event or especially the first responders in the field can pick out the important information. So we added the tools to do that throughout the product.
Gina: Yeah and I think that that was especially important and something that our customers had been asking for again for a long time, and as Pete mentioned going through the products it was especially important to be able to do that from, you know whether it be mobile responder, mps, net viewer or CAD. So the support of that particular functionality the customers are very much looking forward to.
Pete: Yeah and another one along those lines, improvements that we’ve done to chronology so chronology is the record of everything that occurs on an event is really important. Going back and reviewing events after the fact may also be important in court cases and that kind of thing. So it has to be accurate and precise and easy to read, and we’ve made a lot of improvements in this release based on a lot of historic customer requests in that area. So we’ve really been able to take care of a lot of specific customer requests on that. Another major area that we attacked in this release, if you like, I mentioned is enhanced call taking. Specifically techs texting into the control room or the PSAP. It’s really an important industry trend in public safety to move towards the next generation communications, but one of the areas that customers typically want to step into first before they jump right into these kind of very impactful integrated call control next generation workflows. One of the things they want to do first is to text into the PSAP and you get a lot of pressure on that front end to do that. So we’ve added the capability for them to be able to do that without having to go to, for example a next generation communication system – that kind of thing. So an easy way for them to take advantage of that, and then we’ve continued to make improvements on the map, especially with our enhancements to the multi-source map. That’s really important to continue to use a real forward progression in that area and innovation on the map. We’ve done quite a lot on the mobile side, haven’t we Gina?
Gina: Yes we have and I think it’s important for us that the features is the usability and the concentration on being able to enhance usability throughout the MPS product. So we’ve done a lot with that as well as making the key features across the board available in our mobility products, as well.
Pete: And the other area that we talked about as a major thing was this platform for innovation, and really there’s a lot going on in the industry today both the public safety industry and the broader tech industry. A lot of trends, a lot of new technologies that we’re looking at, and to bring to bare in the public safety arena to try to improve our products where it makes sense. One of the things that we’ve delivered on the 9.4 platform is a web based dispatching capability where we’re really taken advantage of a lot of those kinds of concepts, and it’s a platform to move forward with a lot of that as well. We’re really rethinking at a very organic level that a lot of the dispatch workflows to try and bring some of those technologies to bare and help us improve performance and the efficient use of resources, as we talked about at the beginning.
Gina: Yeah and following that from a mobility perspective with a mobile server we’re providing a platform for app development and we think that that is definitely important. As Pete mentioned, a trend that’s allowing the capability to create apps and customer specific and customers will be able to create their own apps for their own workflow and so forth, in addition to certainly what we provide as mobility solutions moving forward, so mobile server is providing that platform for app development.
Laura Beth: So can you tell me again this is a lot of enhancements, how do you decide each upgrade what goes into it? So was there any customer involvement or feedback incorporated into this release?
Pete: Oh my goodness, yes! You know I think our philosophy on customer involvement is that it’s probably the most important factor in making a successful release. Obviously, in order to make sure that the functionality comes at the other end of the release does what our customers want it to do. You know that’s really difficult to achieve in a very complex software development environment, and so we have to be in constant contact with our customers. So our vision is to get that input early and often.
Gina: Yeah Pete to add to that speaking with customers and everything, they’re the ones that drive our product. I mean end of discussion. So it is imperative that we have that input and to add to that our usability team has done an extensive work, focus work with customers, sat down and met with them gone to their locations and provided that feedback to us, and they’re experts in the field that can relay that information to the development teams to make sure that we’re hitting the nail on the head. And then that we’re providing good functional software for our customers.
Laura Beth: Alright so where do you guys see the future of Hexagon Safety and Infrastructure CAD software going? How do we keep it at the top?
Pete: Well I think that CAD has been around for a while and it has a very proven record. It’s been very successful. It’s a very reliable and very performance system. It’s used by all kinds of customers all around the world. So it has a real good success record but over the course of those 20 years that we’ve been working with it we’ve really managed to bring it forward on different platforms and different technologies that have come out over that time. Obviously, the industry changes very rapidly so we’ve managed to do that. So we’re able to support our customers with the key factors of performance, reliability – the two really most important things in a CAD system. Whilst we brought it up to date and up to date continually updated on different platforms and I think going forward, as I said earlier it’s really an exciting time there’s a lot of innovation going on today in our product lines and because there’s so much going in the public safety industry and the broader tech market. I think we’re well placed with 9.4 as a platform for innovation to take advantage of some of those things and really bring some innovative solutions to market, both in the CAD side, as well as, the mobile side and other areas of our products lines.
Gina: Absolutely like we mentioned with mobile server that’s going to give us the platform we need for the app development which is obviously something that our customers want and need and by providing that it is innovation and it is the future of where we’re going.
Laura Beth: Well thank you both for your insight today. Everybody always want to know about CAD and the latest on it. So thank you for your insight. We appreciate you also being our guest today.
To our listeners you can learn more about public safety solutions and the new computer-aided dispatch 9.4 by going to our website at hexagonsafetyinfrastructure.com. Tune into more episodes from HxGN Radio on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher Radio. Thank you for listening.