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Giving Dispatchers Eyes and Ears on Active Scenes

What if you could widen the real-time visibility dispatchers receive, enabling them to virtually transport to active scenes? It is possible, and here’s how.

It never fails. An officer gets into an altercation with a subject and manages to get to their radio just long enough to call for backup. But the response makes their heart drop … “10-9?”

Now the officer’s attention is diverted as they try to find another opportunity to key up again to ask for help. The officer’s safety may be in jeopardy, and no one knows it.

On the flip side, perhaps help is on the way, and fast. But at this point, the officer has restrained the subject, and there’s no need for backup to be responding with lights and sirens, putting unwitting civilian drivers and pedestrians at risk. But dispatch doesn’t know that, because the officer’s radio got switched off during the confrontation.

In these scenarios — and countless others — it would be advantageous for dispatch to have actual eyes and ears on critical scenes. They could get backup on its way quicker or divert resources to other places as necessary.

“With current systems, in order for dispatchers to understand what’s going on, they rely 100% on officers to relay information back to them,” says Donno Cole, public safety expert, Axon. “It’s a challenge law enforcement has become blind to — something we’ve just accepted as reality — and yet, here in 2020, we have the ability to change it.”


Using technology to empower dispatchers

With the majority of U.S. police officers now outfitted with body-worn cameras and with the availability of connected cameras, it’s possible to give dispatchers eyes and ears on scenes.

“Axon has a product that’s already in the market called Aware, which allows people with the appropriate permissions to watch the Axon Body 3 body-worn camera video livestream,” Cole says. “It also allows us to know an officer’s position based on the location services in the camera, and receive real-time alerts when the situation changes in the field.”

That means dispatch always has access to an officer’s precise location and can even watch the officer’s camera footage in real time in order to gather pertinent details about a scene, including officer status, subject description and more.

Additionally, instead of burdening officers with the task of providing radio-based updates, a signal can be automatically generated by sensors in the field. For example, if an officer arms a TASER CEW, it could be indicative of a potential escalation. These context-relevant signals can equip dispatch to “know before it’s voiced” so they receive real-time updates as a situation changes and can respond accordingly. Responding officers can then focus on the task at hand and not on providing all-too-often incomplete and infrequent radio updates.

This leads to greater officer safety, increased visibility for dispatch and patrol supervisors, as well as the potential to intervene before escalations spiral out of control.

The next step is deeper integration of these signals within the dispatch system, which is something Axon is diligently working on.

“We’re integrating Aware with our dispatch solution so we can expand that situational awareness into the comm center and make it so dispatchers can take action based on real, live information,” Cole says. “We’ll have that done by the end of the year.”


Real-time situational awareness

With Axon Aware, dispatchers and supervisors can see and hear in real time what your officers experience at a scene. Contact Axon to learn more about how Axon Aware can help your officers and the citizens they serve get home safely.