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CentralSquare Expands Mutual Aid Tech System in N.C.

The move, involving eight public safety agencies, is designed to improve responses to hurricanes and other emergencies. The CAD-to-CAD deployment reflects a hot trend in gov tech, according to an executive.

Closeup of 911 dialed on the keypad of a smartphone.
A cross-jurisdiction technology deployment in North Carolina highlights how public safety agencies are coming together to share real-time data.

CentralSquare Technologies said six of the state’s counties later this year will join the company’s Unify network, to which two agencies in the Raleigh area already belong.

Through Unify, emergency dispatchers can call for backup from other agencies when phone lines are down while maintaining records in CAD systems. The general idea is to boost mutual aid in public emergencies via technology, and to dispatch the closest responders no matter their agency.

In short, the connective technology becomes more important to incident response than the borders of agency jurisdictions. That can make a significant difference in dealing with hurricanes and other emergencies, according to CentralSquare.

“Unify empowers communities to stand stronger together in the face of any challenge,” said Dara Brenner, chief product officer at CentralSquare Technologies, in a statement. “By connecting agencies through real-time data sharing, North Carolina’s many agencies can act as one unit to deliver faster emergency response and more effective support for citizen safety regardless of borders or jurisdictions.”

CentralSquare said motivation and funding for this new mutual aid push comes from the state and its 911 Board. The company added that its technology can reduce phone call transfers between agencies by 50 percent.

“With the unified CAD, we can share calls and data seamlessly for mutual aid requests between EMS and neighboring agencies, opening our interoperability to new levels,” said Doug Workman, emergency communications center manager for the Cary Police Department, in the statement. “As a next step, we plan to migrate to the cloud for easier maintenance and Unify network growth.”

Earlier this year, as CentralSquare marked the 30th U.S. deployment of its Unify product, a company executive told Government Technology that using such tools to improve mutual aid stands as one of the hottest tech trends in public safety, including for such emergencies as wildfires and power outages.

“There has always been a reluctance for agencies to talk to each other, especially on the communications side,” said Tim Boyle, chief customer officer. “There have always been tech hurdles, and a reluctance to share.”