A Safer Blue Ridge Parkway, Thanks to You

Your investments in a dispatch system and communications center are protecting visitors and the park 

April 7, 2020

For law enforcement rangers, ensuring the safety of millions of visitors along 469 miles of road in two states is no small feat on an ordinary day. Now, they are seeing a large influx of people looking to find comfort in the outdoors during this difficult time.

Your generosity laid the groundwork for making this a safer time for visitors and rangers. In 2012, your donations funded the construction of a Parkway Communications Center at National Park Service headquarters in Asheville, N.C. It provided a secure, dedicated work environment and state-of-the art radio communications network.

And just last year, your gifts funded a new Computer Automated Dispatch (CAD) system. Previously, dispatchers relied on hand-written logs and managed four to six computer programs to address any situation at hand, from a report of injured wildlife to a vehicle accident. The new system streamlines how dispatchers assist rangers and local emergency responders with access to immediate mapping, site details, and background information. During periods such as these when staff are even more isolated, the ability for the law enforcement staff to reliably and efficiently communicate with dispatch and with each other is even more important.

“The investment in the dispatch center and computer automated dispatch system is a tremendous gift to the park," said Alexa Viets, Chief of Resource Management and Interpretation for the Blue Ridge Parkway. “For law enforcement staff in particular, this system is critical.”

The dispatch team has been able to increase efficiency by more than 50 percent, allowing each member to provide better service and more attention on each call. The project was a collaboration between two parks, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and two partner groups, the Foundation and the Friends of the Smokies, allowing both parks to install the system and collaborate in times of emergency. The project is serving as a model for communications innovation across the National Park Service.

Thank you for investing in the protection of your fellow Parkway travelers and the rangers who strive to make every visit a safe one.