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How to Keep Your Dispatching System Online (and lower your ISO insurance rates)...

Your dispatching system is important. Whether you work for a fire department, police department, government, railway, telecommunications company, or any other company with complex dispatching, the public depends on your performance. Lives are literally on the line.

The high human cost of failure in your industry is reflected in the insurance rates your pay. ISO standards are used to evaluate your ability to keep your dispatching system online during a crisis. You'll pay a much lower rate if you can prove that threats to your dispatch equipment and the underlying telecom network are detected quickly and dealt with before they cause a problem. If you don't have the right monitoring system, you'll suffer with insurance premiums that are much higher than they need to be, and the public will be in unnecessary danger.

Protecting your dispatching system with an effective remote monitoring system, then, is the right thing to do to both protect human lives and reduce your operating expenses.

A police helicopter, a fire truck, and a military transport helicopter are controlled with dispatching systems
Protecting your dispatching system (via an effective and reliable remote monitoring system) is vital for keeping life-saving services online. It is also an excellent way to reduce insurance premiums through increased compliance with ISO standards.

Some "solutions" that vendors will sell you just aren't effective As important as monitoring your dispatching system is, don't run off and purchase a system without doing some analysis. This is, after all, a major infrastructure decision. You and your team (and the public you serve) will have to live with the consequences of your choice - good or bad - for many years to come.

That's why it's so important to understand what makes a good monitoring system to tackle the specific challenges associated with public safety dispatching systems.

What the right monitoring system looks like Fortunately, there are several clues you can look for that will help you identify monitoring gear that will be appropriate for your dispatching system:

  1. Does the monitoring system have the right inputs to match the outputs on your dispatching system?
    A supervisory monitoring system does you no good if it can't communicate with the equipment it's expected to monitor. Consider the protocols used by your dispatching system. SNMP, contact closures, various radio protocols, and text streams are all common output formats. For best results, find a system that's flexible. You shouldn't have to purchase support for dozens of protocols when you only need a few, but it's always nice to have upgrade flexibility for the future.
  2. Can the vendor tell you how the system has reduced insurance premiums related to ISO standards for other clients?
    Remember that ISO standards are a way of quantifying the human impact of your dispatching system protection efforts. Your insurance company can typically offer you lower insurance premiums when you reduce the chance that a dispatching system failure will expose you to expensive litigation and liability. Furthermore, you're protecting life-saving services when you protect your dispatch capability. Ask your vendor directly, "How will your system impact our insurance premiums?" Look for specifics and evidence, not generalizations and smooth talking.
  3. Does the vendor offer case studies demonstrating how the system protects dispatching systems at similar public safety organizations?
    Some well-intentioned vendors have big ideas, but they're simply not field-proven. As nice as any salesperson might be, you just can't afford to purchase a system that isn't already working in environments similar to your own. Demand that any prospective vendor provide you with written evidence of their monitoring system's previous successes in the protection of dispatch systems. Lists of the vendor's existing customers are also helpful for making your decision.
  4. Is the monitoring system guaranteed to work? (can you get a refund if you just plain don't like it)
    Although case studies and references are strong indicators of a product's quality and applicability to your network and systems, nothing is absolutely certain. You might find that your dispatching system has a particular quirk, unrecognized until after you purchase a monitoring system, that will cause incompatibility. A good vendor will attempt to help you work around the problem. Similarly, if you aren't ultimately satisfied by the installed system, a good vendor will offer you a full refund. Look for published guarantees that a system will work as advertised.

T/Mon and NetGuardians are proven to work for public safety...

T/Mon master station and NetGuardian alarm remote for monitoring fire, police, military, and other dispatch equipment

The T/Mon central master station and NetGuardian alarm remotes are already in use at fire stations, 911 dispatch centers, police stations, and other public safety organizations in the United States and around the world. Here are a few case studies from public safety organizations: