Chesapeake FD Automated Dispatch?

Larry51

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For the last several weeks I’ve noticed that the Chesapeake FD apparently has been testing an automated dispatching system. It appears as “TAC 11” on my SDS100 and starts with a new two-tone alert followed by the assignment announced by a voice that’s a bad imitation of Alexa and which mispronounces many of the street names.

The test broadcast is followed immediately by the regular dispatch over on the usual FD/EMS Dispatch channel.

The list of CFD talk groups in the Radio Reference database doesn’t show a TAC 11 but does show a channel called “CFD Disp 2 Dispatch 2 (automated).

Does anyone have any details as to what’s going on?
 

Webodisk

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Yes true, they are doing BOTH automated broadcasts first, then Disp 1 with a human rebroadcast. A few cities are doing this, Tac 11 was changed
 

clbsquared

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Chesapeake has entered into an Auto Aid agreement with Suffolk. Right now it's mostly for structure fires, commercial fires. Anything close to Chesapeake and Suffolk is auto dispatched and vice versa. Also, Suffolk changed their talkgroup names. To my knowledge, there will no longer be a "Fire 2, 3, 4, 5" etc. They're all TAC channels.
 

Randy_Vick

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I heard the automated broadcasts, followed by the human rebroadcast today. Automated included district, human did not. Human had significantly additional detail.

At about 1330 Chesapeake was dispatched to an MVA on 664. SFR was dispatched for "mutual aid" and "auto aid," but there was a significant time delay. Chesapeake responders had already requested and dispatched additional ambulances before SFR dispatch occurred.
 

clbsquared

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I heard the automated broadcasts, followed by the human rebroadcast today. Automated included district, human did not. Human had significantly additional detail.

At about 1330 Chesapeake was dispatched to an MVA on 664. SFR was dispatched for "mutual aid" and "auto aid," but there was a significant time delay. Chesapeake responders had already requested and dispatched additional ambulances before SFR dispatch occurred.
They're still working the bugs out of it. They just brought it online last week.
 

K3QQN

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For the last several weeks I’ve noticed that the Chesapeake FD apparently has been testing an automated dispatching system. It appears as “TAC 11” on my SDS100 and starts with a new two-tone alert followed by the assignment announced by a voice that’s a bad imitation of Alexa and which mispronounces many of the street names.

The test broadcast is followed immediately by the regular dispatch over on the usual FD/EMS Dispatch channel.

The list of CFD talk groups in the Radio Reference database doesn’t show a TAC 11 but does show a channel called “CFD Disp 2 Dispatch 2 (automated).

Does anyone have any details as to what’s going on?
I have heard the same thing. I live in the Beach, but hear their system automated alerts too. Usually I'm driving, but it's similar to what we have on the Virginia Beach system. Apparently it doesn't do well with abbreviations and does not learn local pronunciation. The IT guys reprogramed ours to change how the mutation occurs a little so the abbreviation "AVE" is better understood. Hampton and Norfolk have done the same thing. It's really for station alerting. It replaces the old Motorola tones that tripped the pagers and house klaxon or bells. Somehow a study was done that says the old, loud wake up system was hazardous to responders. They said it causes tachycardia and a nervous reaction that is potentially harmful physically and mentally. They think a softer house alarm is better for the nerves. So, you hear several tones, see a printout on the enunciator, and hear the voice alert. If you're on the road, you have to listen to the radio command channel though. I'm an old volunteer and I can vouch for the klaxon blowing you out of bed at the station or the pager waking you up at home. With the new system, we can't take Zone Medic units home anymore, and if you turn the portable down too far, you miss the call. But, if it saves someone from stroking out late one night, then I guess it's ok. By the way, I am sure this is a permanent change, with their radio maintenance doing some fine tuning. The duty crews at our station hate my pager reception on the talkgroup because it's not station limited. So, I generally lock it out if I'm there. Regards, K3QQN
 

gosharks

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Unrelated but related: does anyone know when Chesapeake Station 10 is opening and Ladder 12 is moving? It is way behind the scheduled opening that the City had announced.
 

wa8pyr

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It's really for station alerting. It replaces the old Motorola tones that tripped the pagers and house klaxon or bells. Somehow a study was done that says the old, loud wake up system was hazardous to responders. They said it causes tachycardia and a nervous reaction that is potentially harmful physically and mentally. They think a softer house alarm is better for the nerves. So, you hear several tones, see a printout on the enunciator, and hear the voice alert. If you're on the road, you have to listen to the radio command channel though.
Assuming they're using Locution (which seems to be the hot ticket for semi-automated dispatching right now), it's not only for the "kinder, gentler" wake-up. The primary reason they started using it here in Columbus, OH was to speed up dispatches. Because Locution is IP-based and sends dispatches to the firehouse over network lines, multiple runs can be dispatched to different houses at the same time, while it also goes out over the dispatch talkgroup. If there are multiple runs going out at the same time it might take awhile for a run to make it to the dispatch talkgroup - which inevitably leads to companies marking responding before the run goes out on the radio - but it gets there eventually; you can usually tell when this happens because Locutia (nickname for the female voice around here) will dispatch several runs in quick succession.

It also works fine with pager-based systems over the radio, although the speed aspect of sending multiple runs simultaneously is lost.

Locution also greatly improves intelligibility. Because CFD still uses firefighters as dispatchers and they rotate desks during their 24-hour shift, you would hear several different people dispatching runs in a single 8-hour period; some of them had good pronunciation and intelligibility while others were nearly unintelligible. With Locution it's always that same voice.

We had the same problems here with Locutia mispronouncing street and business names (for example "Meijer" stores were pronounced "Mee-jer"), but they eventually told her how to pronounce it correctly.

One thing Columbus FD does do is put the humans to dispatching runs several times a month just so they don't forget how. Normally the dispatcher just sits there, quickly reviews a run sent to him by a call-taker (also a firefighter) then clicks the "GO" button; from there on it's all Locutia.

I also can attest to the tachycardia issue; I was rudely awakened in the middle of the night many times back in my firefighting days. Anything that will ease that shock is a good thing, although Locutia gets pretty boring to listen to.
 

BoxAlarm187

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Assuming they're using Locution (which seems to be the hot ticket for semi-automated dispatching right now), it's not only for the "kinder, gentler" wake-up.
WestNet and Phoenix G2 are the two systems we see throughout Virginia, but of course the idea is exactly the same. Quicker out-of-the-door times, consistency in pronunciation, and of course, the heart-saver tones. It's also nice that we can (we're using Phoenix) alert 20 individual firehouses of 20 different calls at the exact same time.
 

Larry51

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I contacted the Chesapeake Fire Department and asked about the automated system. The automated computer voice is part of the Phoenix G2 system and is followed by the human dispatcher who re-transmits the assignment and communicates additional information. The Alpha/Bravo/Charlie/Delta designations are assigned to a call priority, which translates into a specific run prescription.

According to the CFD, there are no plans to replace dispatchers with computers. The new G2 system is more computerized, but only to the extent that is provides more information and notification at the user level, such as in the fire station using message boards and LED lights.
 

BoxAlarm187

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That is correct, the G2 (and similar) system doesn't replace people, it just brings automation to the process, and saves about 45 seconds of call processing time.
 

JimD56

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We love Phoenix G2 here in Miami-Dade. Been using it for about 6 years. Totally scalable. We are the largest subscriber of the system in the USA. Only tones out the correct unit bunk rooms based on the call or all station call for full assignments.
Full App support on IOS and Android AND we even got to write our own wave files for tone outs. So obviously for structure fire assignments, we chose the old LA County Fire tone out from Emergency, yeah the TV show. Pretty geeky awesome.
 
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