What is Dispatch and Interoperability?


Dispatchers are the communications personnel that are responsible for the receiving and transmitting of reliable messages, the tracking of vehicles and equipment, and the recording of other important information. Police and fire departments, emergency medical services, transportation companies, public utilities, and government agencies use dispatchers to relay information and coordinate their operations through their radio systems. Essentially, the dispatcher is responsible for the direction of all field units.

The primary tool of the Dispatcher is the dispatch console. A dispatch console is a system that interfaces to a private or public radio system, allowing the dispatcher to communicate directly with all field workers, police officers, EMS personnel, and others in order to coordinate their activities. Catalyst is a leading supplier of dispatch consoles.

Dispatch Console user

Catalyst’s console technology can be configured as an overlay technology or may be integrated with existing radio system components. Radio gateways are dispersed throughout the network and each converts voice and data from the radio system to IP (Internet Protocol) packets. Once the voice traffic is converted to IP packets it can be sent over a public or private IP network to a dispatch center where the consoles reside. The IP is converted back to voice so that the dispatcher can hear the radio transmission and can respond accordingly. For additional information on Catalyst’s architecture, click here.


Interoperability between Fire and Police

Interoperability refers to the ability of field personnel in disparate (dissimilar) radio systems to communicate with one another. For example, the city of Minneapolis, MN police department may use a private radio system from a particular vendor “X” and the city of ST Paul’s police may use a different private radio system from vendor “Y”. In this case, officers in each city cannot communicate with one another in their day to day activities over their police radios. In the event of a large incident requiring officers from both cities to work together, a dispatcher may be asked to create an interoperability patch through a radio gateway system. Catalyst is a leading provider of such radio gateways. In the aftermath of 9/11, due to the poor communications across various emergency response service agencies that responded to the incident, the US government instituted requirements for improved interoperability on a nationwide basis. Catalyst has responded to this challenge through the introduction of its industry leading IntelliLink software.