Dispatch Automation Settings: Preferred ETA

GPS is a great way to figure out how close responders are to an emergency. Unfortunately, not everyone has GPS-capable phones, so Beacon uses the Preferred ETA setting to figure out who’s closest.

When dispatchers send out Broadcast Alerts, responders are asked to self-report their ETA to the Incident Location. Beacon compares each responder’s self-reported ETA to the Preferred ETA setting to determine what happens next.

Here are three examples to show you how it works. (Please note: The Preferred ETA setting works the same way whether you’re responding through the Beacon Mobile App or via SMS.)

Example 1
Responder ETA ≤ Preferred ETA

If the responder’s ETA is less than/equal to the Preferred ETA, the responder is told to Proceed to Location immediately.

Example 2a
Responder ETA > Preferred ETA
Responder is Assigned

If the responder reports an ETA greater than the Preferred ETA, the responder is told to Please Standby (for 1 minute*). Beacon is now waiting to see if there are other responders who are closer. If Beacon can’t find another responder with a shorter ETA, as shown here, Beacon will then send the Proceed to Location message.

*Read this page on “Confirmation Windows” to learn about how Beacon decides how long you have to wait.

Example 2b
Responder ETA > Preferred ETA
Responder is Rejected

Just as in the example above, in this scenario the responder reports an ETA greater than the Preferred ETA and is then told to Please Standby (for 3 minutes*). After 3 minutes, Beacon then tells the responder, “You are not needed for this incident.”

Why? Because Beacon found another responder who had a shorter ETA (and is therefore assumed to be closer) than this responder.

*Read this page on “Confirmation Windows” to learn about how Beacon decides how long you have to wait.

The Preferred ETA setting is how Beacon determines who the closest responders are. Is it perfect? No. In fact, you’ve probably already figured out that responders can game Beacon by always replying with an ETA of 1 minute.

This is true.

But why would they want to do that when lying about their ETA could be the difference between them saving and causing a death? As far as we’re concerned, that’s a personnel problem — not a technology problem. Tell your responders to be honest about how long they need.

One day everyone will have GPS-enabled phones and Beacon will be able to pick the closest responders that way. Until then, the Preferred ETA setting will do just as well.

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