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County bidding for new 911 system March 15, 2010

Posted by Bahadir Sahin in English, Haber (News).
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Luzerne County is seeking bids for a new computerized 911 dispatch system expected to shorten response times and give emergency responders access to more critical information.

The county has outgrown its current Computer Assisted Dispatch system, which was installed in 2002, said Luzerne County 911 Data Manager/Technical Support Manager Fred Rosencrans.

“It can’t handle the volume. We dispatch for 76 municipalities and handle 1,000-plus calls per day,” Rosencrans said.

The CAD system “tracks and handles the heart and soul of 911 functions,” he said.

One of those functions is automatically plotting the address and location of a caller on a county GIS map on a computer screen.

Currently, when the 911 center receives a call, a dispatcher has to look up the protocol for the police, fire or other emergency department that would handle the call before dispatching.

“That inherently adds a 30- to 45-second delay,” Rosencrans said.

The new system will have all of the approximately 75,000 incident card details programmed in and will work interdependently with the county’s GIS mapping and address system, which should eliminate that delay, he said.

The county is seeking a “Tier 1” system because it is unique in having such a large number of agencies for which the center dispatches in relation to the county population. Normally, Tier 1 systems are designed for counties with a population of more than 500,000, he said.

Luzerne County has a population of about 320,000 – not including students at the five colleges – and the center dispatches for eight county departments, 11 FBI and state police agencies, four state park ranger agencies, 82 fire departments, 53 ambulance stations, four aero-medical departments, 55 police departments and 10 other agencies, the county needs a larger system.

Not only does the system map caller locations and then dispatch the appropriate emergency response agency when working properly, it records incident logs for each agency and is a central repository for those records.

The new system also will offer mobile CAD functionality, which will give emergency responders with mobile computers, Internet access and a software license access to any information available to county 911 operators.

For example, responders will be able to view addresses and locations of callers on county GIS maps on their mobile computers.

In addition, police officers will have direct access to driving records, criminal histories and other information on potential suspects. They’ll also have silent dispatch capabilities – the ability of police and dispatchers to communicate via computer, rather than radio, Rosencrans said.

Rosencrans said the state Emergency Management Agency is covering a percentage of the cost of the new CAD/Mobile CAD system based on the percentage of county 911 calls placed from cell phones. The funding comes from a $1 monthly e-911 surcharge assessed on cell phone bills. About 56 percent of the 911 calls received are from wireless callers, Rosencrans said.

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