News : 911 Technology Upgrades Wasted in Vermont Call Center Closing
Derby, VT, USA, Sept 9, 2015 -- An effort to consolidate Vermont’s 911 call centers has resulted in more than $100,000 of wasted investment on recent technology upgrades, according to the Enhanced 9-1-1 Board’s executive director.
In January, Gov. Peter Shumlin proposed closing 911 Public Safety Answering Points in Derby and Rutland Town to help narrow the state’s budget gap. While the call centers are closing and merging with centers in Williston and Rockingham, the merger won’t achieve the savings originally envisioned, as upgrades related to new service provider FairPoint Communications didn’t survive the transition.
"When the Department of Public Safety notified us that the Derby and Rutland PSAPs would be closing, we diverted that equipment and that work effort to Rockingham and Williston," Barb Neal, director of the Enhanced 9-1-1 Board told Vermont Watchdog.
But not all of the new equipment survived the transition.
"The only piece of upgraded technology that was not redeployed elsewhere in the system is the fiber installed to Derby prior to the suspension of work. … The cost for the fiber to Derby was estimated to be $108,000," Neal said.
Neal said the Rockingham PSAP now requires additional bandwidth from the Vermont Telephone Co. to accommodate call-taking positions transferred from Rutland. She did not detail costs associated with the expanded bandwidth.
Vermont selected FairPoint as its new 911 service provider in November, replacing Colorado-based Intrado. As part of the contract, FairPoint will deliver five years of enhanced 911 services. The new emergency system is expected to be more reliable than services provided through Intrado.
Expensive fiber optics equipment installed in Derby won’t be used, however, as notification of the PSAP consolidation came after FairPoint began making upgrades.
According to Neal, the Department of Public Safety notified the board of possible consolidation of the call centers in January. At that time, the E-911 Board instructed FairPoint to suspend work in Derby and Rutland, but the fiber for Derby was already laid.
The entire conversion from Intrado to FairPoint was completed July 29.
While the FairPoint contract originally called for new equipment at eight PSAPs, the closing of Derby and Rutland Town offices leaves only six centers. Four other PSAPs are private entities operated at police departments in St. Albans, Hartford, Shelburne and Lamoille County.
Of the $1.7 million in projected savings, more than $1 million is expected to come from a reduction in call center workers. Additional savings are expected from streamlined scheduling and operational costs, along with a reduction in overtime hours for workers.
Vince Illuzzi, a former state senator and current lobbyist for the Vermont State Employees Association, said the situation illustrates poor decision-making by the Department of Public Safety.
"That equipment is going to be obsolete because it’s not going to be used anymore," Illuzzi said, adding that lawmakers weren’t told about equipment issues during the session.
Illuzzi said the state may also have to pay unexpected personnel costs as a result of the consolidation.
"They’re going to have to cut a deal with the remaining dispatchers — some of them are going to be driving from the Newport area to Williston to work. … The bottom line is it’s not going to save anywhere near the $1.6 million," he said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, September 16, 2015