Skip to main content

CAD Interoperability

Nearly every Emergency Communications Center (ECC)/Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) in the U.S. uses a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system to dispatch 911 calls and to facilitate records management. Very few, if any, CAD system components are uniform across vendors.

This situation creates a significant barrier to transferring emergency calls and associated data, such as caller location information, an essential function required for the 911 community to transition to Next Generation 911 (NG911) functionality. It also creates a significant challenge for transferring call information to first responders in the field via emergency responder broadband networks such as the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) being implemented by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), which is needed to enhance responder safety and situational awareness.

CAD Interoperability Assessment Project

To realize the benefits of a nationally interconnected, seamless system of systems, the disparate nature of CAD systems must be understood and solutions developed for the 911 community. With this in mind, the contract for the CAD Interoperability Assessment Project was awarded in October 2021 and a nationwide assessment of the current status of CAD systems was undertaken.

Current Status of Computer-Aided Dispatch Interoperability

The project’s initial report, was released in July 2022 and summarized the current status of CAD and the challenges associated with establishing an interoperable 911 CAD data-sharing capability nationwide. The analysis is the product of symposia with both PSAP stakeholders and with industry representatives conducted in early 2022. Though each group identified different challenges to achieving seamless interoperability, the two aligned on the following as primary obstacles to data-sharing:

  • PSAP leadership and the slow decision-making progress

  • Lack of standards and standards enforcement

  • Funding

  • Lack of federal or state oversight to enforce standards

  • Unwillingness of some agencies to share data

  • Workflow expectations among agencies

  • Politics and jurisdictions not getting along

  • Disparate CAD systems with disparate levels of functionality

The report includes additional information from the symposia, including the consequences of the inability to share data across jurisdictions and the benefits of CAD interoperability; the need for national standards and common terminology; GIS; governance; and other topics.

Computer-Aided Dispatch Interoperability Strategies for Success

The project’s final report, was published in June 2023. In soliciting the perspectives of ECC stakeholders, CAD solution providers, partner organizations, and non-CAD vendors that offer software platforms that augment emergency response, the symposia convened by the project discussed each group’s experiences, successes and challenges concerning CAD data interoperability.

Multiple technical and operational issues were identified that have stalled progress. Collectively, participants concluded that the path toward true CAD interoperability and data-sharing will require a two-tiered approach: a local grassroots approach accompanied by a national resource center to support local efforts, along with a national-level approach that explores national leadership to advocate for standards adoption and funding. The report identifies specific strategies agencies and other stakeholders can pursue to advance CAD data interoperability on both fronts.

Last Updated: 04/10/2024