Clark County opens new 911 Communications Center
Clark County opened a new 911 Communications Center last week. The new center cost around $6 million and will be the dispatch center for nearly every local municipality and all 10 townships in the county.
It features around $4.2 million in new technology to be prepared for a number of emergencies and have multiple backup systems. For example, there are multiple feeds of power, internet, and phone lines coming into the building to prevent a complete shutdown of the center.
It also meets the state standard for something called Next Generation 911.
“We have a system that’s in place that’s capable of accepting text to 911 and video to 911,” Mjr. Christopher Clark, the 911 Communications Director for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, said. “That’s actually one of the things that’s projected that we’ll have up and running ahead of the next generation requirements.”
NG911 is a digital, internet protocol (IP)-based system that is designed to replace the current analog infrastructure that is in place around the state and country. The digital system will allow for text, photo, and video messages to flow through the 911 network.
It also allows for greater efficiency and faster response times by eliminating duplicated services and transfers from different dispatch centers. Before, police agencies and fire and EMS services in different cities, towns, and municipalities had to communicate back and forth to coordinate a call. This isn’t necessary with the NG911 systems – all calls come to the same place.
“Just by not having to have someone on each end pick up that phone and answer those questions back back and forth that we now can do by sitting face-to-face [or] side-by-side, that increases our response time, that increases our efficiency, and that ultimately results in better public service to the community,” Clark said.
Clark said that over the course of a year, there were 30,000 calls just between the City of Springfield and Clark County communication centers. The new call center will ensure that won’t happen moving forward.
Several smaller police departments, including Donnelsville, North Hampton, and Tremont City, haven’t signed dispatching contracts, however. They cited cost factors as the reason. The new Clark County 911 Communications Center will still service and dispatch for these locations, they just won’t be able to utilize some of the new enhancements. Clark County will continue to negotiate with these locations.
The new center was paid for by the Clark County Commission with bonds, 911 Wireless funding, and American Rescue Plan Act dollars.
A ribbon-cutting event will be held for the location sometime this spring. A date has not been determined at this time.