D4H API

The D4H API (Application Programmer Interface) is a powerful way to access and interoperate with your organization’s D4H data, and enhance your organization’s D4H usage of it with your own developments.

For example you can create your own mobile application for D4H (in additional to the D4H mobile applications, that use the API.) That, or you can craft your own simple scripts, e.g. to provide a custom quiz to your users via the whiteboard.

The simplest way to get started is:

A more flexible (but marked as experimental, and quite likely soon changing) approach is to implement a user “login”, to gather a token on demand. Note: This isn’t quite as simple as it first appears, it is two step not one. ( When we log in to D4H first with an account it is second our membership in an organization/team that we then use for most API calls, and some accounts are members of multiple teams. ) The authentication API grants an account token, and to call the main APIs one needs to use the account token to acquire a membership token from that account token. (The generated token above – from the team website – is already a membership token.)

Once you have a working token you can access most of the team data; and update some.

  • Activities (past and future)
  • Duty records
  • Member records
  • Groups
  • Equipment (and more)
  • Tasks
  • … and more

What do you want your D4H data to do?

You might want to create a simple an app or webpage to allow your membership to submit maintenance reports your way, or you might want to display call statistics or some recent incident information (or available tasks) on a display in your building. The D4H API allows you to decide what is important to you, and enhance D4H towards that goal. (I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Let me know.)

Powerful, but still ‘Work In Progress’, I hope…

Much as the D4H API is very powerful, the API is incomplete in a few key areas: incident updating, qualifications, tags, custom fields, and more.

Hopefully those will be coming because without them activities can be created, but not updated in any way (not adding a location, a tag, a description, nothing.) This limits any field-based tools for incidents.

No access to qualifications means we cannot create our own qualification reminder systems, and qualifications (we have many tens for every member) are a key challenge for our membership.

Notes Collector – Cloud sync

Notes Collector is the same application as Timestamped Field Notes, but on a completely different infrastructure. Whereas Timestamped Field Notes allows you to capture data to a local (internal) database and then export it, Notes Collector’s database is automatically synchronized with the cloud, when online.

Why is this valuable? For a number of years users of Timestamped Field Notes have wanted to share notes across devices, and with Notes Collector a note added on one device will appear on all your others.

Further, backups are automatic and ongoing. No need to export to Google Drive, or other, to get it safely backed up.

Notes Collector is now available on iOS and Android.

Share Triangulation Android

After considering offline sharing (to offline capable maps) of the triangulation on iOS, I realized the same should be possible on Android.

The share coordinate button on the beta version of the Triangulation application, now offers a chooser to allow any installed applications that support the geo:{LATITUDE},{LONGITUDE} scheme to be opened to that location.

Please join the open beta for Field Triangulation and check it out…

Open triangulation in application…

Some application that support this scheme are:

Triangulation & Offline Maps

Be it a wild-land firefighter locating smoke or a wildlife biologist tracking subjects, or one of many other users, Field Triangulate is often used in the back country, away from cellular networks. Field Triangulate works offline (to accept locations and bearings and generate a triangulated location) but it cannot show maps offline. I often get asked about adding “offline maps” support to Field Triangulate, but that is not on the product development roadmap at this time.

Topo Maps+ from Glacier Peak Studios is an excellent offline topographic map solution for iOS (iPhone and iPad.) It provides access to a wide variety of offline downloadable maps, and offers GPS features.

Field Triangulate for iOS version 1.1.2 will allow a triangulation (latitude / longitude) to be sent to Topo Maps+ (even when fully offline) in order for Topo Maps+ to display the map for that location. Topo Maps+ will use the current map, and current zoom to present that location.

Use Topo Maps+ to survey the terrain at the location, and between you and that location.

Topo Maps+ will even allow you to use that triangulation as a waypoint, allowing you to easily navigate to it.

Do you use other Topo Mapping Apps?

Let me know what application you use for offline-capable topographic maps on Android devices, and I’ll look to integrating Field Triangulate to that on Android.

Field Triangulate launching Topo Maps+ on iOS

Incident “Credits”

Our annual membership requirements include training (across all disciplines), some safety requirements (e.g. mask fit testing) and 20% incident attendance. That 20% … 1 in 5 calls … can be hard on some responders. Calls drop at odd hours of the day or night irrespective of life, family and work schedules.

We offer “Incident Credits” as incentives / rewards for above and beyond shifts (Christmas & New Year shifts … one credit atop any calls), for critical conditions patrols in hot/dry summer months, and for other worthwhile causes.

To apply an incident credit:

  • Create an incident, allow D4H to set its unique identifier (we don’t typically use the CAD identifier, but we might add an “a” or “b” to the end of one to associate it with that incident, e.g. stayed overnight to monitor the fire.)
  • Tag the incident as “Incident Credit” (we create that tag)
  • Invite *only* those getting the credit (do NOT invite the rest of the team, hence a bonus for those present, and no negative for others not present)
  • Approve the incident as/when your process dictates.

D4H shows “percentage attendance” which mathematically is a numerator of “number of attended incidents” over a denominator of “number of invited incidents”. Adding an “incident credit” is technically not fully 1 incident attendance since it adds to both the numerator and the denominator, but it is a valuable credit (and close enough.)

D4H Incident Percentage in Reports…

We tag incident credits as such, mainly so we can pull them out from regular incidents to get accurate response numbers for (say) grant applications.

D4H does a good job of maintaining individual response numbers, and incident credits allow us to give credit while keeping things simple (the presented numbers correct) for the volunteer.

On-boarding new members to D4H and more…

With today’s training requirements on new firefighter recruits it take a couple of years to develop new/promoted firefighters. We do annual recruiting and annually hold classes for structural firefighting, medical response, hazardous materials and wild-land firefighting. We are about to start on-boarding almost a dozen new recruits…

On-boarding is a process. We have an orientation day where we take a photo of the firefighter (for identification, but also for us to put a face to a name) and we add them to D4H, and provide them a login so they can get acquainted with what is going on. We then have a bunch of other tasks per recruit…

We chose to use Asana for our task management. D4H has task management but we wanted a bit more sophistication in grouping, assignment & deadlines. (We use D4H tasks for equipment/station maintenance tasks.) One thing we do with Asana is group on-boarding tasks for a new recruit, and then clone that whole group of tasks for each recruit.

Our tasks look like this, and we clone them (with assignments / deadlines) one per recruit:

  • [IT] Add to Everbridge (as non-Operational.)
  • [IT] Add to D4H. Check groups, permissions. (Station group, mentee group, Full Fire-fighter or Wildland Team group.)
  • [Admin] Add ID photo to D4H.
  • [Admin] Add to Training Sheet.
  • [IT] Add to Google Groups – including dispatch group.
  • [IT] Add to Wild-land IQS – for qualification tracking
  • [IT] Add to Group Me – for dispatch messaging.
  • [IT] Add to Evite.com (for annual award dinner, family picnics, etc.)
  • [IT] Add to online training system (as needed.)
  • [Admin] Add to FPPA portal (pension)
  • [Admin] Get coded for County Fuel Key (once ready.)
  • [Admin/IT] Get Knox Box code (once ready.)
  • [IT] Add to Everbridge Operational Group (once ready.)

… and this is just the list after we’ve done the initial health / background screening, and paperwork. Actually, there is likely even more.

We found that if we did not explicitly add a task for each step of each new member we’d overlook something for somebody, and it is hard to catch these things after the fact. (New recruits don’t initially notice when they aren’t getting notifications they don’t yet know about.)

One gotcha we have each year with D4H and newcomers …

We are 4 fire stations, one fire community but two main teams (full firefighters FFF and wild-land firefighters WLT) and we are one D4H team. (I’m not sure we’d change to one D4H Organization and two D4H Teams, even if we could. It’d feel wrong to separate things.)

Anyway we do tend to create exercises where we invite FFF and/or WLT as appropriate, and we cannot not use “Full Team” so we use “Selective” attendance for the activity. We lay out our training calendar at the start of the year, which is where the problem arises: Our new recruits get added to D4H and these groups after the exercises are created, so they are not added to the exercise’s attendance … they are not “requested” and they don’t have permissions to add their attendance. It hits us every year.

We have no easy fix for this we just (after on-boarding) create a D4H group of the new recruits and manually updating the exercises they want to go to, requesting the members of that group. New recruits usually have more than enough of their own training, but there are a few (boat training, pack tests, mask fit tests) that they want to attend. It catches us every year.

We are very grateful for the new recruits, however on-boarding is quite a process…

Volunteer Engagement…

As an active Fire Department with up to 300 calls a year and lots of training / qualifications / equipment to manage, we have a lot of reasons for our volunteers to log in to D4H. We’ve found we can get a sense of current engagement (especially with the newcomers) by seeing how long it has been since they last logged in.

https://YOUR-DOMAIN.d4h.org/team/members/lastseen

To get here go to “Planning” / “Members” then “Manage Access” under “Usage & Logs”.

Most newcomers are eager to get involved and check in daily. Some who are busy might go a week between visits. Those who are a month or more away might need a check in themselves. (We’ve implemented a mentorship program where experienced firefighters help new firefighters navigate the – these days – challenging first couple of years of training; structure firefighting / medical response / hazmat / wild-land firefighting. Mentors will check in on new responder to help them remain engaged and make it through those hardest first years. )

Most volunteers experience up and downs in their career, “up years” and “down years”. These show in response numbers, and attendance numbers, but also here.

If volunteer retention is an active issue for your organization (and we are actually very lucky in this regard) then this is a screen you might wish to check on now and then.