Director England proposed purchasing a next generation controller and computer aided dispatch stations, giving the dispatchers a total of six stations to receive calls, at a cost of approximately $169,000.
The next generation equipment allows 911 dispatchers to receive text messages and Voice over internet protocol phone calls, which are internet based telephone providers such as Vonage, requests for dispatch. They could also receive video calls. These services would allow dispatchers to communicate and provide aid to people who are visual or hearing impaired.
Next generation equipment also provides enroute mapping so that dispatchers can provide step-by-step directions to emergency workers who may not know the location of a call for help.
Though the upfront cost is high to the board, Director England explained, “I wouldn’t bring it to you if I didn’t think it was worth it.”
The board unanimously approved the purchase of the equipment from Combix, who Director England says has the most cutting edge technology at a price that is considerably lower than other next generation equipment companies, contingent upon the contract with Combix being approved by the board’s attorney.
Board member Jerry Denton said he has personally seen two workstations go down at one time, so having backup systems available would be a great advantage to dispatchers and the residents of the county. Board member Chris Isom agreed, “It’s been frustrating.”
In preparation for the January 1, 2013 deadline for narrowbanding, Charles Bell, of Skynet Airwaves, spoke to the board about a possible trade agreement in which Skynet would supply the board with free internet access for their two towers to be able to communicate with each other in exchange for being able to mount the company’s dishes on their towers to offer internet service to residents in those areas.
Bell said the equipment would also be provided at no charge. According to research done by the board, they would save $1,300 a month just in internet service from a competitor internet service provider. Bell says it would take approximately three days to have the service set up for E-911.
The board agreed that they would like to have more information about exactly what Skynet would provide and would decide how they would like to proceed at a later date.
At the next meeting of the White County E-911, the board plans to vote to put out a bid request for eight repeaters and four antennas to begin the process of switching to narrowbanding.
The next meeting of the E-911 Board will be 6:30 p.m., June 11, 2012, at White County Courthouse.