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starting a 911 dispatch center project

Contemporary Ergonomic Consoles

Project managers charged with the renovation or construction of a dispatch center may never have actually experienced planning and developing projects of this nature.  It’s normally not a priority learning curve in the training and development of a 911 employee and many times an individual suddenly finds themselves “knighted” by management to take the lead...while learning.  

Once the brick and mortar decisions have been made and  Architects, General Contractors and designers have been enlisted, one of the larger budgetary items are the dispatch center furnishings from telecommunications needs to dispatch consoles.

Besides budget, ergonomics and 24/7 usage are key drivers of these decisions - as are the actual users themselves.  Incorporate your dispatchers’ thoughts and opinions by providing them the opportunity of input.  Opening the floor to ideas and possible change in the status quo changes your project management checklist into project management opportunities, building team buy-in.  While some ideas may not be budget allowable, your dispatch teams’ input through a questionnaire opens communication that sets you on a course for success.

Some key questions for dispatcher participation in developing a dispatch/communication center:

• Describe what you like or dislike presently about your dispatch center and the design.

• What would you change or like to see incorporated into a new design?

• What could be incorporated to make your job more efficient; responsive; easier over the course of your shift?

• Relative to your dispatch consoles, would you prefer a single platform adjustable work surface with a larger writing space or a split duel adjustable work surface?

• Do you feel more cable channeling is needed?

• Do you feel comfortable in POD, quad or dual configurations and why?  Are you comfortable with current sight lines?

• Do you feel personal environmental controls would be beneficial (air, heat, individual task lighting, light indicators when on a call)?

• Do you feel the need for storage – personal or otherwise?

• Do you prefer your monitors be on a single row or double stacked?

• Do you feel there is currently an issue with excessive noise during the shift?

• Please include:  how many years have you been in the industry as a dispatcher/call taker etc.

Make sure to provide the outcome of your questionnaire, responding to all ideas, even those that may not fit the project budget but will be kept for future potential use.  Provide explanations as to the decisions being made and how they relate to the questionnaire responses.  Have monthly shift meetings to keep everyone in the loop or an update newsletter.  While you may be the lead on this project, your co-workers are who will be at the forefront daily operating in the environment.  Everyone feeling they have contributed to the end result is what makes a project manager and the project a success.

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