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Watson Consoles Blog

Nov 15, 2017 High Performance Environment, Before You Buy

Shop wisely for 911 dispatch furniture and get more bang for the buck!

Shop wise for your 911 dispatch furniture and get more bang for the buck!“I wish selecting dispatch furniture was easier. How do I keep the operator’s happy and the consoles within budget?” "How do I get more bang for the buck?” ...Sourcing complex technology furniture can be a challenge. You CAN have it all. Learn why some features matter more than others and discover long-term payoffs that you may not have thought about.

Most Centers know that dealing with multiple vendors can be taxing with increased complexity in accounting, administration and project ownership.

In some cases, a dealer like Motorola will facilitate a purchase that includes both technical equipment and furniture – the two big items in the dispatch space. This works well unless you want to build your own package. Some organizations are fortunate enough to have an architect or consultant on board leading the charge. Many teams, however, handle it all themselves – research, design, purchase, installation, service. One of our customers responsible for just the console furniture purchase shared a sentiment we have heard before.

There’s so much information and I am only familiar with what my team needs. It is a challenge to make it all work especially on our limited budget.

In this series, we’ll focus on three best practices for easing the buying process:

  1. Exploring full-facility furniture needs - technology furniture and conventional commercial furniture
  2. Identifying beneficial feature sets for specific teams - dispatchers, IT, administration and operations
  3. Understanding the extended value of a consolidated furniture purchase - purchase price leverage, design and service continuity

Explore full-facility needs

there are many work zones in your organizationThere are options to simplify the process and increase end-user satisfaction. A useful tactic is to identify purchase consolidation opportunities. Vendor consolidation offers enduring advantages including design and technical continuity throughout the facility, price-point leverage, and service continuity for the lifetime of the products.

We are seeing purchase consolidation more and more, especially when it comes to furniture. PSAPs are beginning to realize the gains to be had when buying dispatch consoles, technology furniture and conventional office furniture from a single-source supplier. There are a handful of manufacturers, like Watson Consoles, who have the know-how and proven reputation for supplying top quality dispatch console furniture and commercial storage, desks, meeting and training solutions.

Let’s explore the value of the full-facility furniture purchase. Then you can decide if furniture purchase consolidation is right for your Center. We’ll begin with the role of conventional commercial furniture and technology furniture in PSAPs and Ops Control.

the right furniture will make the job easier

technology furniture makes wire management easyInformation is critical to operations within dispatch centers and command-and-control environments. Speed and accuracy of information delivery hinges on human-to-human interaction using a broad array of technologies: voice, VoIP, video, text, data and telematics data. And Next Gen 911 mandates that centers transform to emergent technologies. These technologies flow through systems integrated into dispatch consoles. We believe 911 dispatch furniture should make this easy.

Typically, planning a facility is a once in a lifetime event for a PSAP official or planner, since most facilities have a 25-year horizon. While the console furniture is typically replaced on a seven to 10-year cycle, the center’s architectural walls, floors and ceiling grid must sustain change. And technology and redundant systems add unique demands to emergency operation facility planning.

Breaking down the full-facility need into specific work zones may help your Center understand purchase consolidation opportunities that can save time and money. The time you might have spent on complex multi-vendor furniture specification can be reallocated to the more complex technologies. And understanding the needs of specific teams within your organization will help you select the right fit - no more, no less. 

Tip: Think beyond the dispatcher position. Small Centers may benefit from multi-purpose tables that can deployed, reconfigured and stowed. Tables like these are great for training, impromptu debriefing and agency-wide conferencing. 

multi-prpose tables benefit PSAPs with multiple needs and small spacesEOCs find mobile desks and tables valuable for rapid team formation. Manufacturers that specialize in design engineering for 24/7 environments, design-in durability for conventional solutions as well.

Planning centers to accommodate various work flows

While PSAPs come in various shapes and sizes, there are work zones found in almost all centers. You may have an opportunity to advise the purchase scope and better leverage your budgeted dollars. Let’s look at the areas in your center that may need dispatch consoles, technology furniture, and commercial furniture. 

The Zones

Storage areas should be designed to house and protect your radio, electrical and mechanical equipment. These items are general stored separately for security, ease of inventory and deployment. Most storage rooms contain a combination of shelving and locking cabinets. Some may also have work tables for small-equipment service.

  • monitoring, training, debriefingRadio Equipment
  • Mechanical/Electrical Equipment
  • 911 Equipment

Many work zones contain technology furniture and conventional commercial furniture components. These include:

  • Dispatching/Call Taking
  • Training/Meeting
  • Conference/Meeting/Briefing

  • Blounge and kitchen for modern PSAPreak room
  • Lounge
  • Locker Room
  • Lobby

  • Reception
  • Work/Mail Room

  • Weber Area 911 locker room installationDirector’s Office
  • Computer Systems (IT)
  • CAD Systems
  • GIS Systems
  • Emergency Operations

Technology furniture includes consoles, desks and tables that integrate systems power and data for daily operations and may be referred to by multiple terms. Console furniture units used for mission critical monitoring and dispatching, in particular, are also known as:

dispatch consoles PSAP consoles height-adjustable consoles
console desks PSAP desks height-adjustable dispatcher desks
dispatcher desks dispatch center desks technology benches
dispatch workstations monitoring desks dispatch center consoles
dispatcher positions technology furniture 911 center furniture

choosing the best dispatch consoles for your team

TIP: Depending on what you type into your internet browser’s search field, you may unknowingly limit your options. Be as specific as you can when searching online. Use long-tail keywords like “height-adjustable PSAP console” or “monitoring desk for security operations.” And search for more than one of those terms.

next steps for making a smart purchase

Next steps for finding the best products for your team

What are your next steps? Dive deeper into functional feature sets and learn why they benefit specific user groups. For example, you might be surprised to learn that the keyboard platform dispatchers love is a challenge to IT access. 

  1. Assess your facility - Which work zones are due for furniture? Will purchase timing align?
  2. Ask your colleagues for their top three needs as they relate to furniture they use everyday.
  3. Tour the websites of at least three technology furniture providers and three commercial furniture providers. Familiarize yourself with products available to you.

Next week, we'll share research gathered from PSAPs across the country and from architects and consultants that specialize in public safety facilities. Common pain points that IT managers, facility managers and dispatchers have shared with us will give you some idea as to how 911 furniture is evolving.  We'll also give you some insight into value that extends beyond basic feature-sets because low cost dispatch consoles may not provide the long-term return on investment that you or your funding partners are depending on.

Oh, and did you know that dispatcher workstations, reception desks, conference and training room tables can influence mood, team dynamics and the public’s perception of your organization?  More on that to come.

happy 911 dispatchers


Have you lead a dispatch consoles furniture selection team? What was most challenging?

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