Technological Advances, Why We Must Fear Them

by pjmcbride

Let’s be semi-serious here (as serious as a person with glitter all over her hands from a failed nail polish experiment can be), in an attempt to distract ourselves from THE WEATHER WHICH IS GOING TO KILL US ALL. Let us, therefore, pretend that we have a future, and proceed to complain about it.

People, by which I mean supervisors, in this business are fond of telling us, “Texting and video to 911 is coming! It’s on the way and there’s nothing you can do about it!” Firstly, why do they always sound so gleeful? Secondly, let me head off the nothing-you-can-do-about-it smugness RIGHT HERE. A certain supervisor, who shall remain nameless because she, um, still works here, used to tell me, back in the Bad Olde Days (refer to the post I wrote about the History of Dispatch, back in the Somewhatte Olde Days) (NO, YOU CAN’T HAVE A LINK, WHAT DO YOU THINK I AM, TECH SUPPORT?), “There’s no use complaining, it won’t change anything.” Well, it sure won’t change anything if you don’t complain. So complain away.

(So will you be getting to the point anytime soon? they ask. Well, sure! I’ve got a shower to take and bed to go to!)

OK. I can see situations (you’re locked in a car trunk because you’ve  angered a.) the Mob, or  b.) a serial killer, or c.) the Dispatch Board) where texting 911 rather than talking would be the way to go. But seriously? In the majority of circumstances, it’s faster to talk than text. And I don’t care how young and tech-savvy you are, it just is. (By the way, my not caring that you’re young and tech-savvy is something you can generally count on.)

OK, that was a passably-reasonable objection. My objection to video will be whining, plain and simple, so consider yourselves warned (because whining is something you so rarely encounter in this blog).


if i’d wanted to actually see icky crime scenes, i’d have become a cop. what’s next, smell-o-vision? we already have enough people saying, “can you hear what he’s saying to me? do you hear that loud music? listen!” now we’ll have people saying, “do you see that? look!” dispatchers used to sometimes have to go to court and testify about calls and radio traffic. that has been largely eliminated through improved logging technology. ironically, the inexorable march of technology will now lead to an increase in us appearing in court, because we’ll have to testify about what we saw. or how about the liability for what we didn’t see? some attorney saying, “you should have seen that guy sneaking up behind them on the video! wasn’t the murder weapon lying there in plain sight? what do you mean you didn’t notice it because you had someone calling on the radio at the same time for the 3 fire runs you were monitoring? that’s why we should replace you people with robots!”

Ahem. Anyway, as usual, I don’t have a solution. Thanks for bearing with me. Yes, I know I should say that at the end of every post.