The tools developed for the fire service are intentionally purpose-built. Whether it’s something to help increase safety on the fireground or an app that assists with administration tasks, there’s a reason a fire department has invested in a specific product.
But what about when something goes unused? It’s fair to assume that whatever the item or piece of software might be isn’t quite meeting the needs of those it was designed for.
Such was the observation made by Phil Kouwe, president and CEO of StreetWise. Having spent 14 years as a fire chief and another 10 working as a fire service consultant, Kouwe noticed one piece of equipment that was largely getting ignored time and time again.
“I was going into fire departments all over the country to do consulting studies,” he explained. “As I did that, I would climb into their fire truck and I would see that they either didn’t have a computer or any kind of technology at all in the cab of the truck, or they would have a huge laptop computer and about 70% of the time, the lid was closed and there was a coffee cup or a map book sitting on it. When you see that, you can’t help but ask the question, ‘What’s wrong here?’”
Through conversations with departments across the nation, Kouwe learned that fire crews were looking for more functionality from their CAD vendors. While these mobile products certainly provide valuable information, many felt there were gaps in their respective programs.
After identifying what these mobile CAD systems weren’t doing for fire departments, Kouwe set out to build StreetWise, a software solution that would work with existing CAD platforms and enhance fire crews’ level of on-scene management.
INFORMATION FLOWING BOTH WAYS
Designed for use by both fire and EMS agencies, StreetWise interfaces with a department’s existing CAD solution. The app is available on Apple and Android mobile devices and supports fire crews from the moment an alarm is dispatched. Of the many benefits offered by StreetWise, the core of the software comes from its bidirectional capabilities.
“StreetWise provides an exchange of data in and out of many CAD systems – not just outbound to a crew, but also from the crew to the CAD system,” said Kouwe. “That allows StreetWise to actually update data in the CAD system automatically.
“For instance, instead of recording statuses so they can be forwarded on to a records management system, we can push those status changes back into the CAD system so that the status of the unit changes automatically when they push the button on the app.”
This bidirectional flow of data helps keep dispatchers up to date as incidents evolve, allowing them to send additional resources when needed. Aside from the continuous inflow and outflow of status information, StreetWise can also provide crews with automatic vehicle location (AVL) data.
“We can also feed vehicle location tracking data back into the CAD system,” said Kouwe. “Likewise, we can take AVL data from the CAD system and display it. If they want to display the location of police cars or ambulances, even if the ambulance service is not part of the fire department, we have an API that allows us to take that data in and display it even if the ambulance isn’t using StreetWise. We can even take in vehicle location tracking data from third parties like Verizon or a Cradlepoint modem.”
WORKING AS ONE UNIT
The bidirectional nature of StreetWise promotes increased visibility and communication between a department and its CAD system, but the sharing of data doesn’t stop there – the platform is also designed to offer interoperability between departments.
“With our regional accounts, we have the ability to allow multiple departments in the same region to share data with each other and see each other on the maps, even if they’re dispatched by different CAD systems,” Kouwe explained.
He describes one region in West Virginia covering two counties in which all departments aren’t dispatched by the same center. Any department within the two-county region can see every fire truck in the area, he says, and they can also see NFPA-compliant preplans and preplan points from those other departments on their map.
While a department can’t make changes to another department’s data, this viewability adds to greater situational awareness during multidepartment incidents.
“It really makes a lot of sense for areas where there are multiple departments that run mutual aid together, especially if they’re not dispatched from the same CAD system, because they can have a common operating picture,” said Kouwe. “By way of StreetWise, they operate as if they were one big fire department.”
ACCESSING DATA YOUR WAY
The StreetWise platform is a valuable tool while on-scene, but its other features make it equally useful even for those who remain at the station. Crews can simply display their StreetWise data on any monitor or television using the SmartBoards feature and customize the data shown in a way that best meets their needs.
“We developed a designer studio so users can go into the studio and create their own pages and their own look and feel,” said Kouwe. “It’s widget-based so they can add or take out pages and drag and drop, sort of like putting together a PowerPoint presentation. It’s not a new product for us, but it’s a complete overhaul of that product.”
Smaller departments that may not have a CAD system at all can also turn to a StreetWise solution, their lightweight option CADuceus.
“It’s a web-based cloud CAD system so it’s very easy to implement and doesn’t require local servers,” he said. “It doesn’t have the same features as a big CAD system but it’s helpful for small agencies that don’t have any kind of a CAD system at all.”
No matter the size of your department, the functionality provided by the StreetWise platform can help support your current CAD interface and provide more data in an easily accessible way. Crews that use StreetWise can make more informed decisions both while on their way to a scene and during the ever-changing management of critical incidents.
Visit StreetWise for more information.