"If you had a home computer that was 15 years old, you'd probably replace it," said
But every time someone calls 911 in
The regional Emergency Communications Center is looking to update its outdated 911 software. Officials say the end result will be faster responses to emergencies and better workflow between the many software programs area authorities use.
The ECC recently issued via
Hanson described the current system as "nearing the end of life."
He said the other software programs that area agencies use are also dated, with some systems adopted in the mid-1990s still in use in some departments. Many of the programs, he said, are about 10 years old.
In 2011, the ECC began looking to put out a call for proposals for a new system, Hanson said.
Soon, after realizing that many other software systems being used in the area were also dated, the idea for the proposal expanded to include the integration of departments.
Sellers said that when he began his job as county police chief about two and a half years ago, he surveyed employees about their needs and complaints. He said an updated software system was "one of the top five things" employees asked for. "They felt it was antiquated," he said.
Hanson said including the integration of other software systems in the proposal for a new dispatch system would help the regional departments replace "all the systems that are old in one fell swoop."
In its request, the center is seeking updates on the computer-aided dispatch system; mobile data computing; law enforcement records management; automated field reporting; jail management; fire records management; and patient care reporting systems. Additionally, the request asks for a way for the new dispatch system to interface with 39 other software systems that are in use.
Hanson said that dispatch software eliminates the need for dispatch workers to write information down by hand. He said the computer-aided dispatch system makes it easier and faster for call-takers to input callers' information and send it to first responders.
In the past, he said, calls were basically taken with paper cards. He said a call-taker would ask questions of the caller and hand the card to a dispatcher, who would then read the information over the radio.
"I can remember, we wrote it on a notepad and kept a log," Hanson said. He said notepads and paper cards were the standard in
Now, information inputted by a call-taker immediately appears for the dispatcher, who can read the information over the radio but can also send it to different software that first responders have access to in their vehicles.
"It saved a whole lot of time," Hanson said. "Today, we can get the basic information, dispatch the call and stay on the phone."
Although introducing a computerized system made the dispatch process more efficient, officials said an updated program would save even more time.
Several area public safety leaders said a feature they're looking forward to is the GPS component found in newer dispatch systems.
Sellers said most modern dispatch systems track officers' positions using GPS and make automatic recommendations to dispatchers of which officer to ask to respond to a particular call. He said that in some systems, officers can see the positions of others on their in-car computers and can dispatch themselves to some calls.
Sellers also said he is looking forward to getting a new records management system as part of the eventual update. He said a new system would make the process of finding records for the public and the media faster and easier, and would make it possible for officers to file reports from their in-car computers instead of having to return to the department.
"We need to keep up with the times and to keep up with the growing community," Smith said. "These are tools that first responders need to help respond to community needs."
Eggleston said it's hoped that a new system will dispatch calls more quickly and give firefighters a better idea of where to go.
"In a business where seconds count, we'll take 15 or 20 seconds," he said.
Hanson said it's too early in the bidding process to know how much the project will cost. He said it would depend on exactly what type of systems companies pitch.
The bidding period opened
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