The time line for the county’s 911 and computer-aided dispatching system to be up and running has again been pushed back, but officials said they aren’t concerned with the delay.
County interim 911 Director Vince Zagarri said the county’s 911 and computer-aided dispatching system will not meet next month’s tentative operation deadline.
Thursday, Zagarri told members of the county’s Emergency Management Communications Board that the date an engineer from the software provider Intrado would come on site has been delayed about two weeks.
“We were told July, is this August now?” asked Chris Miller, ECMB member and New Haven Ambulance chief.
He added that the date had been pushed back several times this year.
“The question is, when does that date stop moving?” Miller asked.
Zagarri explained that establishing the 911 dispatching system is fluid, and the time line changes.
“There has been a fluctuating of dates, but it is being negotiated by both sides,” he said. “It has not been pushed back by something we can’t resolve.”
“As long as it is moving in the right direction,” said Miller. “I don’t want a stalemate...”
Zagarri told The Missourian that the “perimeters” of the 911 upgrades have changed since they began three years ago.
“We can’t just throw some new computers in front of dispatchers,” he said. “This is not something we can do in knee-jerk fashion — everyone has to come on board.
“I’m a big advocate of getting this done right, not just fast,” he added.
Last month an estimated completion date of July 9 was presented to board members, however, Zagarri said at that time the date was contingent on “data entry being perfected on test stations prior to going live.”
The project involves 911 and emergency management staff, dispatchers, county IT staff and technicians from CenturyLink, as well as the software companies that created the program, purchased several years ago for over $1 million.
County IT staff will be responsible for maintaining the dispatching system’s databases, he said, while CenturyLink will be responsible for software upgrades under the existing maintenance contract.
It has been more than two years since the county entered into a contract with CenturyLink for the new software.
The status of the county’s dispatching software could have a big impact on the overall plan for 911.
Earlier this year, Sheriff Gary Toelke drafted a strategic plan which offered a number of ideas including a virtual public safety answering point.
That would create a call processing center in the county which would then pass 911 calls off to the appropriate entities.
Currently 911 calls are handled by one of four public safety answering points in the county or by dispatching centers contracted with local agencies located outside the county.
With a plan in place, officials said earlier this year they’d like to approach voters with a sales tax proposal to continue funding 911 operations in the county.
Currently 911 is funded by a surcharge tax on landline telephones, but such services have been in continual decline with the increase in popularity of cellphones.
In order to have a virtual consolidation, all dispatching centers in the county would have to use the same software, or software that could be easily integrated, officials have noted.