News : Bannock County Unveils Next-generation 911 Dispatch System
Pocatello, ID, USA, Mar, 2019 -- Citizens of the Gate City area within the next six months will be able to send 911 text messages for assistance, which includes providing law enforcement with photos or video of a particular incident in real time.
At a press conference held at the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office in Pocatello, representatives of various local law enforcement and fire department agencies unveiled a Swiss Army knife of new dispatch equipment from Motorola that consolidates several antiquated services into one modern system, known as the Vesta Next portfolio.
"This is an exciting time for public safety in the Bannock County area," said Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen. "We’ve been working together for a long time in interoperability and intercommunication with each other so that there isn’t any communication barriers between the response we give to the citizens of this county."
The Vesta Next portfolio includes next-generation 911 call handling with integrated data and Geographic Information System (GIS) capabilities, which allows a dispatcher to operate faster and more efficiently.
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With the new system, dispatchers can now access 911 and computer-aided dispatch information seamlessly with a single keyboard and mouse, which allows them to answer calls, create incident logs, dispatch and release calls in as few as four simple keystrokes, according to Motorola Solutions’ website. Further, Vesta Next’s Advanced Messaging Solution program allows a dispatcher to easily share the most relevant content from an incident such as dispatcher notes, multimedia messages such as photos or videos and key portions of citizen text messages directly to a first responder's radio.
"All of our older systems were dialed around the dial phone or our traditional home phone," Pocatello Fire Department Chief Dave Gates said. "Everything from the address that the phone was calling from and all of those systems were built around that. This next generation is moving into that little mini-computer (a smartphone) that we are all carrying around and all the available information such as your location to your ability to text and stream audio and video. It’s capturing that capability that we didn’t have to have 20 years ago."
The Vesta call processing solution is a full-featured IP system specifically designed for high-tech, high volume operations, Bannock County said in a news release distributed at the press conference.
Upgrading to a next-generation system is important, Nielsen said, because Bannock County 911 dispatch is the largest call center in the region, with 11 call-taking and dispatching positions at its three primary dispatch centers. In 2018, Bannock County fielded over 100,000 calls and dispatched responders to over 40,000 law enforcement incidents, more than 25,000 fire-related incidents and 10,000 ambulance requests, according to the Bannock County new release.
In addition to upgrades to the 911 dispatch system, Bannock County Chief Technology Officer Gordon Howell announced the county has also implemented a high-capacity fiber optics internet system to provide broadband capabilities to the Vesta Next system.
"It’s not a bandwidth fiber connection that someone else owns and we get a chunk of it," Howell said about the new broadband connection. "We did this several years ago and it makes the interoperability among the agencies much more effective."
Howell described the recent upgrades as moving the county from an outdated analog system to one that is much more modern and digital, which aligns with the technological advances that the general public is already accustomed to using.
"It’s like moving from a VHS tape to Blu-ray," Howell said.
All local law enforcement agencies including the cities of Pocatello and Chubbuck, the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office, the Idaho State Police as well as the Pocatello and Chubbuck fire departments participated in Thursday’s press conference. Each agency will benefit from the new dispatch equipment, said Bill Guiberson, Chubbuck police chief.
"From our standpoint, the whole implementation of this and the continued upgrades to our 911 system and a lot of our dispatch capabilities demonstrates the cooperative efforts between our agencies," Guiberson said. "This ensures that we are all up to date and that we all have the same capabilities so that we are able to serve our citizens across the board no matter where they are at in Bannock County. That is a testament to Gordon Howell and Sheriff Nielsen for spearheading this."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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