Friday, June 8, 2012

Director: Dispatch needs new servers

Emergency-response system showing signs of age

Express Staff Writer

The manager of Blaine County's emergency 911 system is planning an upgrade this year, hoping to train new employees and replace old, outdated servers and software with more reliable products.

Robin Stellers, E-911 communications director, presented her formal budget request to the County Commission on Tuesday.

Much of the funding for major items comes from the 911 fee issued on all phone lines as well as a trust fund that all police and emergency response districts contribute to.

Stellers told commissioners that her department needs to replace two major servers that were purchased in 2007. The servers, known as computer-aided dispatch (CAD) servers, are responsible for crucial information that dispatchers need to respond to emergency calls.

"It's basically what tells the dispatchers who to send and how many to send and that sort of thing," Stellers said in a later interview. "The servers, obviously, hold all of that information."

Stellers said that like any computer system, her servers have a life span of five to seven years. Lately, though, a few quirks have appeared, and she said they need to be replaced.

"This has been an ongoing discussion since the end of 2011," she told commissioners. "The servers are beginning to show signs of pending failure."


The servers would cost a total of $11,000, the funding for which will come out of E-911 fees. The replacement of those servers, however, requires the replacement of the records management server that holds all police reports and similar records.

"Any report that gets made for any of the agencies is held in the RMS server," Stellers said. "That server is proposed to be replaced as well, but that has to read exactly the same as the CAD servers."

That server's cost, approximately $12,000, would come out of the trust fund. Stellers said the price differential is due to the fact that the RMS holds many more documents for a far greater time than the CAD servers.

The request also includes $1,200 for a CAD software upgrade. The existing software is so obsolete that no software vendors will support it, Stellers said. The RMS system requires the software in order to read the CAD servers, she said.

Other line items include a 700mHz radio software upgrade, a salary adjustment for an employee taking on new responsibilities, as well as two assistant technicians who would be responsible for entering warrants and court orders into the department's systems.

There will only be one budget hearing next week, a discussion of funding for the Blaine County Soil Conservation District. Department budget hearings are expected to continue through the rest of June and into July.

Katherine Wutz:

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