Watson Consoles Blog

Boeing has named its 2017 Supplier of the Year Award winners, recognizing 13 companies for the high-quality products, services and value they create. Watson was honored as a distinguished Boeing Supplier of the Year. Learn more about Watson's history with Boeing and the criteria Watson met to earn the acknowledgment.

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John Lennon once said that life is what happens when you’re making other plans, referring to the fact that, so often, what we think we want and what we actually have are two very different things. There’s nothing wrong with thinking about tomorrow, but if we don’t occasionally notice what’s going on around us today, we might be making sacrifices of which we’re not aware.

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A "stress helps" mindset may sound counter-intuitive - especially when the stress you experience is affecting your sleep, your mood, and your relationships. For 911 dispatchers and other mission-critical operators, learning to tame the stress effect is critical for daily health and long-term stability.

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Lisa had been a telecommunicator for about 3 years when she hit a wall. Despite knowing her work was meaningful (she was saving lives, after all), she couldn’t shake the feeling she could be doing more with her life. Frequent overtime could’ve been a factor, but she and her family appreciated the larger paycheck. Her coworkers were sometimes a challenge to deal with, but, for the most part, she got along with everyone. Another consideration dawned on her.

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In a previous blog, Treadmills at your dispatch console: the good, the bad, and the ugly,  we shared experiences that 911 dispatchers have had with treadmills in their centers. We learned that it’s not always a great fit for everyone. For those centers that have decided to incorporate treadmills, here are the top picks for commercial applications AND three reasons why sourcing directly can benefit your team.

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24/7 monitoring teams, including PSAPs, are placing a heavier emphasis on the health and wellness of their team members. Human factors considerations range from height-adjustability to focal depth adjustment and the addition of user-regulated environment controls. An additional factor for health-minded comm centers is indoor air quality.  Read on to learn more about the value of indoor air quality and the differences between the two major organizations that certify console workstations.

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Florescent lighting + long hours in front of screens = sore eyes, blurry vision, and headaches. If you are monitoring critical operations you have experienced, or will likely experience, these symptoms. For this reason, dispatch console lighting has quickly risen to the top as a critical addition to the dispatcher’s tool kit. Flexible task lights are even better and here’s why.

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When your life is defined by how much you do for the world—the difference you make to those around you—it feels counter-intuitive to hit the PAUSE button. But what if a simple pause held more happiness and an increased ability to care for the world? Yes, by slowing down it’s possible to do more! Read on to discover why hitting "pause" reduces stress and is especially beneficial if you have a high-stress role.

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At Watson we have the privilege to work with hundreds of PSAPs throughout the course of a year as they design their new facilities.  A few times a year we take a moment to reflect and identify patterns in customer preferences, evolving functional requirements and technology integration.  While every center has their own unique requirements, the following three trends are currently driving most of our new project specifications.

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If you are not directly involved with staffing a 911 communications center, you likely do not realize the challenges cities face to retain telecommunicators. Providing the right tools for the job, including specialized dispatcher desks, is one way Comm Centers prioritize community safety, and protect public funding from the high spend associated with higher-than-average turnover. 

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Selecting new dispatch furniture can be incredibly exciting. Working with your team to visualize and evaluate the latest and greatest dispatcher desks can boost morale and lead to increased employee engagement. For good reason, features and benefits are major drivers in the selection. Often overlooked, however, are less tangible attributes of potential vendors. Here's why these are equally important in the decision-making process.

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Recently, a customer’s procurement team asked why the dispatchers required 911 dispatch console work stations - versus standard desks. This is a great question and something public agencies should ask when allocating public funds as it is not always easy to balance limited funding across multiple agencies. Being informed about why certain tools are right for the job is one way organizations demonstrate good stewardship of the funds, and respect for the teams and communities they serve.

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Martha and Jim each have a very different impact on their center. Martha inspires a high degree of trust.  The team members offer solutions to organizational challenges without fear of making mistakes. On Jim’s shift, the feeling is different. Day-to-day, his subordinates don’t know what to expect. His employees generally keep their ideas for improving the center to themselves. Do either of these scenarios sound familiar? Read on and discover the attribute that is the biggest differentiator.

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If you are ready to invest in dispatch console furniture, you want to be sure you get exactly what you need. And it's not always easy getting your team in front of the workstations you are considering. Short of multiple day trips to multiple centers near you, what is the best way to live-demo dispatch console furniture? 

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You have researched every furniture vendor in the market. You have reviewed every feature available for modern call center and dispatch console furniture, from ambient lighting and forced heated air to status lights and cup holders. You have reviewed surface finishes and fabric samples with you team. You have braved the RFP process and selected the perfect vendor for your new furniture. It may seem like your work is complete; it has only just begun.

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Your workstation purchase is a big deal. After all, if you are manning a PSAP console, your team will use these workstations for ten years or more. If you have ever been at a center during a console furniture purchase, you might have heard this, “Why are they asking so many questions right now. We’re not even ready to buy!?” Here’s why.

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More than 10,000 visits by Comm Center managers, IT managers, and 911 telecommunicators have landed these blogs on the top 5 for 2017. If you haven't had the chance yet, give them a read. 

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Buying 911 dispatch console furniture is a big deal. Most PSAPs receive furniture budget every seven to 10 years. When they do it is likely the staffer leading the charge will not have guided the process before. The depth of information related to police and fire dispatch furniture is vast. Many PSAP teams have shared that they have made purchases in haste and not received ideal solutions for their team. You can change that.

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In the quest for a fully staffed communications center, it can be difficult to know what people really want out of their work experience. Fortunately, if you don’t know, it’s not a problem. The best comm centers don’t try to motivate their people. They focus on something much more powerful instead.

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 There are benefits sometimes missed during the evaluation of communications center furniture. Seasoned 911 dispatch staffers will understand why specific feature sets are important for the long-term benefit of a Center and team.  Read on to learn how you can up the ROI on your dispatch consoles and commercial furniture purchase.

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With thoughtful research you can stretch your budget and give teams what they need to be comfortable, focused and productive. Furniture provides value beyond the basic features sets. Your dispatcher workstations, desks, conference and training room tables can influence mood, team dynamics and the public’s perception of your organization. Learn how you can up the ROI on your dispatch consoles and commercial furniture purchase.

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“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.

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During her nearly three-decade career as a front line telecommunicator, Laura’s passion for the job waned. More recently, things had gotten worse. She was short with callers and impatient with coworkers. Her daily attitude, usually positive and upbeat, turned sourer each day. 

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Did you know that the aesthetic impact of 911 dispatch furniture can have a lasting effect on your team? That effect - good or bad - influences focus, efficiency, comfort and, ultimately, a center's churn rate. And the ripples of your purchase impact the economy. Learn how your single 911 dispatch furniture purchase can do so much.

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A compelling and passionately communicated vision can change the world. President Kennedy put a man on the moon and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream inspired hundreds of thousands. Communications Center managers may not be sending rockets into space, but their vision can have a similarly inspirational effect. 

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You may have been recently misled with a false claim. The pitch may have gone something like this: “I understand your agency is planning to replace your consoles... ...That’s great news. As you consider your options, you should really stay away from the wood-based products. Steel is so much more sturdy! You need a console that is built to last and wood can’t do the job.”

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Cold and flu season is nearly upon us. Experts agree that you are most at risk for catching (and sharing) viral infections between October and May. When your team is committed to front-line community help, keeping sick days at bay is a necessity. Making sure your dispatch console clean is one way you can guard against the spread of cold and flu germs. 

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USB chargers are everywhere. In fact, they have become more necessity than convenience. What’s great is that you can find them just about every place you need them - wall outlets and car panels and even airplane seats.You are probably most familiar with USB type-A – the standard. USB type-A connectors only plug in one way (which is most always never the way you try to plug it in the first time) and are big and bulky. The good news is that USB type-A has some competition. USB type-C is a technology that is gaining steam..

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As a heroic caregiver to the world, it’s easy to put others' needs first. This “putting others first” is a hallmark of 9-1-1 superheroes, who are committed to helping others both on and off the job. In many cases, however, this wonderful quality can stretch thin the most resilient caregiver. Identifying the hallmarks of happiness and prioritizing your own today can make it easier to weather the ups and downs without turning into Negative Nelly.

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If you are a dispatcher, you have one of the most stressful jobs out there. To be ready and focused for the next call, we know you can use all the help you can get!  Read on to better understand the powerful impact of scent on mood and productivity. And we'll share a great tip that we accidentally discovered while setting up for APCO.

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Daniel Sundahl's evocative image, above, communicates the emotional stress Dispatcher's encounter on a regular basis. Last week, at APCO, the Watson team had the privilege of hearing stories from dispatchers and other first responder teams. We were again reminded how passionate, proud and strong your teams are.

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In this installment, you’ll learn steps you can take at your agency to create a culture of problem-solving. And you’ll learn to identify and work-through common roadblocks. Read on and discover how you can be part of a lasting and meaningful shift at your agency.

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Don't think you'll be there to shop?

Based on the average PSAP funding cycle, if your center hasn't purchased new console furniture within the last 7 to 10 years, it's time to consider your console options. When funding becomes available, having familiarity with console models and features eases the buying process. 

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In PSAPs and operations centers across the country, “the way we’ve always done it,” is no longer a viable business practice. Entire organizations, from the top-down and the bottom-up, are devoted to uncovering novel approaches to solving challenges. Wouldn’t it be nice if the problems at your comm center solved themselves? 

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Did you know?

Compassion fatigue affects as many as eight out of ten 911 dispatchers.  Repeated exposure to second hand trauma while fielding emergency calls can take a toll on mental, emotional, and physical health. 

Michelle Perin shared her insight into compassion fatigue and the risk to 911 dispatchers in a 2012 Officer.com blog

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Why do some people thrive in the midst of daily challenges while others get taken out? Why can some people tolerate a tremendous amount of stress and others get sick? Resilience.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back in the face of hardship and adversity, and perform at your best on a consistent basis. Like a stress ball that returns to its original shape after being squeezed, the resilient recover more quickly when life’s pressures mount. Research has shown that dispatchers who are resilient feel more in control of their work and lives in general, use less sick time and are happier.

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Each year APCO (Association of Public Safety Communications Professionals) recognizes outstanding contributions within the PSAP community. This year they received more than 275 nominations in nine categories. We extend a special congratulations to our friends at Kitsap 9-1-1 and Pennington County 9-1-1. Their leadership and the dedication 

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PSAPs all over the country are experiencing similar challenges. Low staffing. High turnover. Mandatory overtime. Low morale. And it’s not only because they don’t have money to spend. Some centers offer starting pay above $80,000 per year and still can’t solve these problems.

The best comm centers, however, have cracked the code. Using a combination of tools and approaches, exemplary center managers have made their comm centers places where people want to work. 

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Communications team leaders experience some common pain points directly related to workspace impact on employee satisfaction. In a previously published blog, How the Best Comm Centers Motivate Their Front-Line Employees, Adam Timm discusses the negative impact of dissatisfaction on operations and suggests ways to change the tide.

However, not all change has to happen at once. There are small adjustments that will positively affect how people feel about being at work and support a healthy office environment.

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Soon we'll be heading into cold season. For many PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points), the impact of cold and flu season on staffing is a recurring pain point. And for team members who are diligent about washing hands and dosing Zinc and C, the invisible contaminates they are exposed to at shift changes can derail their well-tuned health practices.  Communications center managers know a healthy workplace helps keep the team in-tact and operations running smoothly. Among communication’s centers, in the last few years there has been an increased interest in antimicrobial work surface

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From June 3-8, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) will host their annual conference and expo. This is your chance to learn why your console workstation choice is an important building block for a high performance PSAP.  This crucial support tool is worth checking out and here's why....

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As our collective pursuit of ever healthier work environments carries on, I wanted to take a moment and summarize Watson’s perspective and learnings on the controversial topic of treadmills at your dispatch console.  Since the early 90’s, we have designed our products to encourage healthy lifestyles and adopted many of the best practices as part of our core culture and it came as a surprise to many that we took a skeptical (and practical) stance on the dispatch console treadmill concept.

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If you work in a PSAP you know all about the battle of the thermostat. There is a regular struggle between the folks that are too hot and the ones that are too cold. Environmental controls that regulate cool air flow and heat are the best solution for keeping front line emergency dispatchers comfortable and actively focused during shift work.  Let's take a quick look at the options available, the applications, and important things to keep in mind about environmental controls when purchasing new consoles.

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