- SPECIAL REPORTS
- THE MAGAZINE
Security personnel in Utah relied on satellites to monitor the locations of more than 400 vans carrying athletes to and from venues at the recently completed winter games. Utah officials are now converting this GPS-based Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system for everyday use in tracking emergency services vehicles throughout the state.
The Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) and Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC) near Salt Lake City purchased the AVL system from CompassCom Inc. of Centennial, Colo., last spring in preparation for the games. They chose the CompassCom CompassTrac system because it simultaneously tracks thousands of vehicles, differentiates multiple fleets and uses the AT&T Wireless CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data) network.
Personnel equipped each of the athlete shuttle vans with a combined GPS receiver and CDPD wireless modem unit, manufactured by TechnoCom and Sierra Wireless. GPS satellites in space enabled each receiver to pinpoint the precise location of the vehicle in which it was installed. This location information was transmitted via wireless modem on the AT& T network to a central security center where a computerized map screen displayed each vehicle’s location, heading and speed.
Shuttle buses carrying athletes were assigned specific routes, which were programmed into the CompassCom CompassTrac map display. Any deviation from this route triggered an alarm at the security center. Each van was also outfitted with panic buttons to allow drivers to notify dispatch of any incident effecting athlete safety. By viewing the AVL map display, security personnel could immediately find the vehicle involved and determine its location to within 10 meters.
Now that the games are concluded, the CompassCom system will remain in place to manage the daily dispatching of 19 public safety organizations operating in the Wasatch Valley. UHP and VECC personnel are removing the wireless modems from the shuttle vans and installing them in police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.
UHP and VECC will equip their dispatch centers with AVL map screens where the incoming vehicle location information will be dislayed on the CompassTrac map display. Dispatchers will see where police, fire and rescue vehicles are located throughout the Wasatch Front Range and immediately determine which vehicle is best able to respond to an emergency call.