What is the Hampton Roads Computer Aided Dispatch Interoperability Project?

Published 9:28 pm Monday, January 8, 2024

Suffolk City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Hampton Roads Computer Aided Dispatch Interoperability Project (HRCIP) in a unanimous 8-0 vote Wednesday. 

The MOU fully integrates the South Hampton Roads localities’ computer aided dispatch (CAD) systems to share status and real-time location information regarding regional fire and EMS apparatuses. This will allow dispatchers in a city with a medical or fire-related incident to dispatch the nearest resource within the South Hampton Roads Fire and EMS departments across city lines. 

Suffolk Fire Chief Michael J. Barakey detailed the MOU for the HRCIP, which will merge the CAD systems of Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Norfolk and Virginia Beach so each 911 center can view and dispatch resources more effectively throughout the five municipalities.

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“This MOU is relatively progressive in the fact that what we’re doing is we’re taking … the cities of Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, and we’re taking the CAD systems that are independent,” Barakey said. “Each municipality has their own CAD, and we’re using software technology to merge the CAD so that each CAD in the individual locality’s 911 center can see the units that are in the five regional fire departments and then dispatch those units appropriately for what we call ‘the most closest and most appropriate fire or medical resource.”

Barakey calls it a “big win” for their dispatchers, the city and the region as a whole. His presentation detailed how South Hampton Roads fire departments began automatic aid responses across city lines in May 2015, with Suffolk agreeing in 2019. With the HRCIP providing a “CAD to CAD connection” for the five South Hampton Roads Fire Department’s resources to be seen, Barakey noted the benefit for Suffolk and beyond.

“There’s not a day that goes by, or really maybe three or four hours that goes by that a Suffolk fire truck is not in Newport News and Newport News fire truck is not in Suffolk. Portsmouth, Chesapeake, we share lines, Isle of Wight, it’s really an integrated Hampton Roads Fire Department,” Barakey said. “ … A fire will double in size every 60 seconds, so we’re going to have our resources there quicker either into our city or across city lines …”

Council Member Roger Fawcett expressed how important the project will be for Hampton Roads.

“This is probably one of the most fantastic pieces of the puzzle for Hampton Roads cities to plug together and get that information out probably much, much faster than we could through the old way of doing business,” Fawcett said. “So for the citizens, it’s a plus up because that response time is going to even get narrowed down even much more … So, I applaud this integrated system. I think it’s going to be fantastic for all of the surrounding cities.”

Following the work session, Barakey elaborated more on how the HRICP project will benefit Suffolk and the Hampton Roads area as a whole.

“We’re going to go ahead and set up a model where the closest most appropriate resource from any city goes to the incident and fire apparatus. We already train together, we have the same policies, the same gear, the same trucks and we’re going to just integrate that and the technology that we have. The Computer Aided Dispatch Interoperability MOU now makes all the CADs for the whole region, they now marry up, and we can see every resource in Hampton Roads from the dispatch center.”