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Some folks think 911 dispatchers sit at the type of desks found in a corporate office. The "desks" are far more complex and provide the, literal, foundation for mission critical communications technology. Since these workstations are more complex, require an investment from the agency, and are only updated every decade or so, how can you be sure you're in need of replacement console workstations?

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How do you know it's time for new dispatcher desks?

1) There isn't enough room for critical work tools

console messy sketch

If your dispatchers workstations look anything like this, it's likely time for new workstations. PSAPs often underestimate the amount of working room a dispatcher needs to operate comfortably and efficiently. In addition to the primary technology and equipment, redundant systems and back-up analogue tools need to remain within reach.

When selecting new stations, choose desks for your dispatchers that have ample surface space. Linear stations with surface mounted comfort controls reveal a gracious work zone for the user.

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2) Your center is consolidating

Many counties are seeking efficiencies through consolidation. Managing this type of change is complex. One way to ease the strain associated with blending teams is by providing a refreshed, neutral work space - one that helps all teams feel appreciated, supported and at ease.


When SnoPac and SnoComm consolidated EMS, Fire, and Police into Snohomish County 911 (above), they knew they needed to create a fresh, team-friendly space. Not only did they select a new style of workstation, they used the space planning efficiency of the linear design to open up the traffic patterns within the center and co-mingle regional support teams.

3) Current dispatcher desks are not height-adjustable

More dispatchers than ever before are using the sit-to-stand functionality of their console desks. In addition to the physical health benefits of adding movement to your day, changing positions boosts operator focus. This non-caffeine, non-sugar tactic is proving useful to shift workers who need to remain mentally diligent during the quiet time between emergency calls.


4) You need to add more positions to an already full space

This is increasingly a dilemma for many public agencies. Service range increases and so must the number of operators. However, the service provider location remains the same.

Your agency can ditch the complexity and funding burden associated with relocation in favor of choosing compact, feature rich consoles. The original floor plan, below left, shows that some work stations are smaller with fewer amenities. The new floor plan, below right, shows phase one of the reorganization which prioritizes making sure that all stations have the full capability to support active dispatch.


The new floor plan was developed with the option to add up to four more positions in a phase two team expansion.

5) Your console workstations have minimal comfort features

Comfort features are the number one ask of dispatchers, nationwide. PSAPs are finding that a small investment in comfort and focus amenities helps reduce daily stress and boosts retention. If you are considering new consoles, these resources can help you make an informed decision.


The typical comfort package will include cool air, heat, task and ambient lighting. When mounted into the rear section of the worksurface, the comfort controls are within reach and do not impede the work zone. Additional comfort features are usually specified separately and include height-adjustability and focal depth adjustment.

What now?

These five reasons typically fall at the top of the list of reasons many PSAPs seek workstation replacements. Next week we'll share a few additional considerations and what to look for when solving pain points including these:

  • We need more effective training space.
  • Our technology upgrades are not supported by older style console workstations.
  • The last consoles we purchased are not holding up.

In the meantime, take a peek at this buyer's checklist for questions to ask when researching new workstations.


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