The price tag: Almost $400,000.
Local tax dollars spent: $0.
The funds were accumulated from a 28-cent surcharge tacked onto every cell phone bill each month. Huron County saved its portion collected from the residents to cover the expense, emergency management agency director Jason Roblin said.
Another $40,000 is owed on the contract for next year, and an additional $25,000 in expenses are expected for needed system enhancements as usage continues to grow.
An 11-member committee spent countless hours planning, training for and implementing the system.
The result: better service for Huron County residents.
“All of the advantages of this shared system boil down to two things in my mind,” Roblin said. “A faster response from your emergency services, no matter where you are in the county. A stable Internet protocol-based 911 system that is ready for the future”
Every police, fire and EMS agency, with the exception of the Bellevue Fire Department, are now using the new system.
That means the five answering points in Huron County for emergency calls have dispatching systems that are accessible to one another.
Wherever someone is in the county, all 911 calls go to the Huron County Sheriff’s Office, at times requiring a transfer to other departments and, prior to the new system, for callers to repeat information they may have already shared.
Now when such a call comes in, the dispatch center receiving the call will be able to see, in real time, information the original dispatcher enters into the shared computer system, saving time and getting help there faster.
Huron County agencies launched the new system Monday. The transition hasn’t been perfect, Roblin said, “but by and large, things have been fairly smooth getting this ball rolling.”
Each department had representatives trained on each part of the system, and in turn, they’ll be training other personnel in their departments on how to navigate the new waters.
“There is still a lot of work to do, and it will take some time until everyone gets used to this software” Roblin said.
There have been no critical issues, but as always when implementing a big project, there have been a few hiccups to resolve.
“But all of our concerns are being addressed, prioritized and resolved by our new vendors” he said.
Alert Public Safety Solutions is providing the new technology.
In the long run, the change reduces equipment costs for individual agencies while increasing efficiency — and it gets Huron County a step closer to the future of 911 technology, dubbed Next Generation 911, in which callers will be able to send text, video and photos straight to dispatch, among other advances.
Erie County, too, plans to implement a county-wide system.
Following on the heels of the consolidated dispatch center in the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, more than a dozen agencies may be part of a new system affecting 911 and records management that is set to launch at the beginning of January, Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.
“We’re very excited about this. It will allow us to share records, share report information with both police and fire,” he said.
Just as in Huron County, the costs of the changes will be covered by 911 funds collected from monthly phone charges to Erie County residents.