Here is a recent blog post from TELUS about CommandWear:

If you’ve ever watched a TV show about police, paramedics or firefighters in action, you know how they communicate with their commanders and with each other. It’s all done by radio. But as Mike Morrow, Founder and CEO of TELUS Partner CommandWear Systems Inc., explained to me, there are three problems with relying entirely on radio communications.

“The first problem is that dispatchers and commanders don’t know where their responders are when an incident occurs, especially when they are out of their patrol car,” Mike says. “The second is that when you’re relying on radio to communicate, the circuits may become congested in a busy situation, or you may not be able to hear all the messages meant for you when you’re in the middle of a crowd. The third problem is incompatibility with different radio or dispatch systems used by other first response agencies, resulting in an inability to communicate with them.”

These problems must be overcome to enable what the U.S. Department of Homeland Security calls the “responder of the future”. These responders will have equipment that will ensure they are more aware of their surroundings, can be warned if they encounter hazardous materials or enter dangerous areas, and can be tracked in real-time.

CommandWear achieves all of these objectives by integrating the web, smartphones, tablets and even wearables like smartwatches into an affordable, easy to use platform. Mike’s company has made the responder of the future a reality, today.

Communicating, tracking and protecting responders, in real-time.

CommandWear is designed to provide complete mobile situational awareness, both for first responders in the field and for their dispatchers and commanders. It starts with Commander, a secure Web-based app that runs on tablets or laptops and provides the central command structure used by commanders or dispatchers. Then there’s Communicator, a separate app for smartphones and smartwatches and available for Apple iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices.Communicator uses the GPS capability of each device to keep all decision-makers informed of the exact location of every team member, in real-time.

Before an event, agencies can pre-enter team member profiles including call signs, the ‘colour-coded’ team they’re assigned to, contact info, and any special skills. To minimize typing, custom messages and responses can also be pre-defined and set-up beforehand.

During the event, each response agency can track team members and vehicles and send secure messages to anyone or everyone. Responders in the field acknowledge receipt of messages with a single tap on a smartphone or the push of a  smartwatch button. CommandWear is also designed to seamlessly interact with each device’s camera, allowing responders to capture still or video images, quickly add notes if they need to, and transmit them instantly back to command or dispatch.

The entire event is tracked, recorded and logged, allowing it to be replayed like a movie. Playback can be stopped and annotations made for training or review. Data can be exported to Microsoft Excel to allow agencies to produce detailed analysis and reports

It has to be easy to use.

“Typically, we have no more than 2 minutes to brief first responders before an event,” says Mike. “So we’ve designed this system with zero training in mind. With CommandWear, you simply click a button or swipe the screen to acknowledge a message or take a picture or video. First responders also often need their hands free and should not be fumbling for their smartphone, which is why we designed it to work on smartwatches too. With a vibration on the wrist, they simply glance down to read the message and then acknowledge or send back a message with a push of a button.”

Real-life examples.

Mike told me about two recent events where CommandWear proved itself in action.

Every year, over 4000 cyclists ride 122 km from Vancouver to Whistler, B.C. in the spectacular GranFondo tour. Paramedics are available along the route, ready to rush to the scene of any accident or incident. But in 2014, there was a problem. The command centre in Whistler was in the basement of a structure that prevented radio communications. CommandWear’s text messaging was used by  dispatch as a backup solution. In fact, it performed so well that the organizers have budgeted to purchase it for future events.

Also in 2014, the Vancouver Police Department equipped its officers with CommandWear for the annual Celebration of Lights fireworks display. Foot patrols, mounted squads and dog teams were all tracked in real-time and could all be reached quickly and effectively if anything threatened public safety or the responders. Fortunately, there were no major incidents but a side benefit uncovered was that CommandWear significantly reduced radio traffic as officer locations were clearly displayed on maps and text messaging was used extensively, with over 700 messages sent during the event.

For more information about CommandWear, visit the TELUS IoT Marketplace.