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New 911 technology will boost public safety through better speed, accuracy

Fort Wayne's 911 call center is getting new technology -- and that could help save lives. (Photo for News-Sentinel.com by Maya Wilkins)
David Bubb (Courtesy photo)

In a world where everything has become more mobile and technology-based, local businesses and organizations are expected to play “catch-up” with technological advances. One organization facing this is the Allen County Consolidated Communications Partnership, which is looking to upgrade its 911 system.

The $3 million plan is focused on improving the speed and efficiency of 911 calls while also making the system more tech-savvy to better accommodate mobile technology.

“It seems like whenever we upgrade parts of our system, there is already new technology that is ahead of us,” said CCP Executive Director David Bubb.

In addition to system upgrades, the vendor will be switched to Motorola, a company that has experience and success within the industry, according to Bubb.

The new system will upgrade location accuracy, allowing the call center to better locate mobile callers. This has always posed a challenge in the industry; mobile calls account for 83 percent of all 911 calls in the area, and with poor location accuracy, call takers have found it difficult to properly locate who has called them because people will call without an exact idea of where they are.

Under the current system, callers could be anywhere within a 1,000-meter radius, but the upgrades will decrease that area to 50 feet. That will allow call-takers to spend less time on the phone while getting accurate results and improving dispatch time — an improvement noted by Fort Wayne Fire Chief Eric Lahey.

Bubb said the system upgrades will not directly affect the way the community contacts 911, but instead will allow for the service to respond in a more efficient way.

“About 86 percent of our calls are answered in under 10 seconds, and we would really like to get that up to 95 percent,” said Bubb.

Another feature includes greater call integration, with all the call-handling functions being handled by the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD). This will allow call takers to work within seconds, as well as decrease the possibility of data entry errors, even though Bubb that has not been a large problem in the past.

System upgrades will cost just over $1 million and will be equally split between the city and county. There will be a nearly $2 million maintenance fee that will be paid over the next nine years, with the city paying 80 percent and the county 20 percent.

Bubb said that Fort Wayne’s 911 system has always been advanced and has been praised by multiple organizations in the state, but these upgrades will make it even better.

“You’d rather be a showcase than a case-study,” he said.