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E911 to explore software options


Jordan Novet



At the monthly E911 board of commissioners meeting on Tuesday, officials representing city and county agencies got word of news of plans to research and install new software on the system''s computers. 


E911 Chairwoman Beverly Broocks broached the topic, bringing the commissioners'' attention to "CAD software, the heart of our (dispatching) software." 


The program was last updated in 2005, E911 Director Sheri Fancher explained. 


"When 911 was basically updated in 2005 ..., there was a committee appointed," Fancher said. "Different computer-assisted dispatch systems were being (compared)." After one was chosen, a "three-way divorce" took place among the companies behind the software. "The end result has been that our computer-assisted dispatch software ... has essentially gone down from there," she said.  


Nowadays, she would say later, in the dispatching room, the software bars users from accessing personal or tailored information about callers and possible victims. If the information could pop up without being prompted to, the office would contribute to a drop in response times, by having one fewer thing to do for each call.  


And for about six weeks this spring, the program was behind schedule by one hour, failing to automatically correct itself.  


"In the world of technology, that software was outdated," Fancher said.  


But an upgrade would not come without a cost. "It''s gonna be an expensive operation," Broocks said. "This is gonna be a major expense."  


To be specific, she cited one company''s quote of $1 per person in the service area of Lowndes County, which has a population of 59,284, according to the U.S. Census Bureau''s 2008 estimate. A new program, then, would cost almost $60,000.  


To evaluate which company offers the best software, Broocks suggested establishing a committee. She named several possible candidates -- including Columbus Fire Chief Ken Moore and incoming Ward 5 City Councilman Kabir Karriem -- but said the committee should be capped at three people.  


The board did not settle on the three people who would comprise the committee. Rather, Broocks said, the point of discussing the software was to let everyone in on something important some commissioners have been exploring. 


In other business, the board: 


n Announced plans and pooled funds for a retirement party for longtime dispatcher Jim Crownover. 


n Heard from Fancher about her determination to put in place a spelling test for job applicants to take.




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