Our Department’s apparatus will soon be boasting brand new mobile data computers (MDCs) that will allow our operations personnel to manage incidents in a more responsive and efficient manner! Our current mobile data terminals (MDTs), which are over 20 years old, are being replaced with laptop computers in all our front line units, which will provide our first responders with more comprehensive data as well as functionality during an emergency. This project, which is a combined effort between our Information Management Division, Fleet Services Division and Command and Control Division, began approximately one year ago. “It’s been a great working relationship with everyone involved for this project,” says Information Technology Manager I Vic Mesrobian. “The committee worked together to select the right equipment, and the new laptops are a great incident management tool.”
The legacy MDTs in our rigs only allow for basic two-way communication between our Dispatch center and on-scene personnel. Dispatchers are limited in the amount of information about an incident they can send to an apparatus using the MDTs. However, the replacement state-of-the-art Panasonic Toughbooks that are being installed boast the ability to pinpoint an incident on a virtual map and provide a route to the location, as well as display the location of sister units around the apparatus in real time. In addition, the new system will allow personnel to access Departmental information such as policies and procedures, premise information, incident management programs, e-mail, Department Intranet pages and Department-approved Internet websites. This enhanced functionality is made possible through a data modem and global positioning unit (GPS) in each MDC, which utilizes aerial maps at both the local and Federal level. “For our personnel who are deployed to incidents out of state, they will be able to see the other LACoFD units out there, and Command and Control can see where they are as well,” says Mesrobian.
New MDCs have been installed in 25 rigs by Fleet Services and Information Management staff. Fleet personnel install the components in the apparatus, while Information Management employees ensure that the MDCs function properly in their new environment. Our Department is in the process of procuring vendors to complete the installation of the remaining 850 units, which should begin in August and take approximately nine months. A train-the-trainer session for battalion coordinators is tentatively scheduled to occur later this month.
Thanks to the upgraded MDCs, our Department will have increased efficiencies, interoperability with partnering agencies and the functionality to be upgraded and expanded to meet emerging public safety technologies, allowing us to be more responsive to the citizens we protect.