Perrysburg Twp. logs onto computer-aided dispatching PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 10:53
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Perrysburg Township Dispatcher Morgan Donnell shows new system they will be using. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
LIME CITY - Perrysburg Township unveiled a computer-aided dispatch and records system this week that will allow better communication during emergencies.
Once the system goes live Saturday, rather than take notes when a call comes in and relay that information to police officers and firefighters, dispatchers will be able to load some details automatically and send them to computers in an officer's cruiser.
The change will not only make the department more efficient but also allow more information to reach responders while they're in the field. Mapping software will keep track of an officer's location, allowing the right personnel to be sent to an emergency. In addition, officers and firefighters will have access to images and more details about the locations to which they are responding.
"The difference is going to be night and day," said Morgan Donnell, one of six township dispatchers who currently use simple options like word processors and spreadsheets.
Under the new system, Donnell said, police officers and firefighters "can see the address, they can see the caller's info, they can see the description. Everything that we have, they have, so it'll make it a lot easier to communicate."
A caller's information will be collected when they first phone the station; on subsequent calls, it will be loaded automatically. And when an officer has finished responding to a call and is ready to complete a report, much of the necessary information will be imported for them.
Deputy Police Chief Michael Gilmore said the potential to lower response times could be "vital."
"It's going to help a lot, because right now we do everything by hand. It will just help keep everything organized and attached, so we're pretty excited about it."
The new system required software from Alert Public Safety Solutions, of Columbus, and upgrades to computers, monitors and other devices, in addition to significant staff training. An Alert trainer is reviewing capabilities and practicing calls with dispatchers this week.


"They're playing around with it so they're a little more comfortable when we go live," Gilmore said.
"For some who are more computer savvy than others, it's going to be an easy transition. But it's pretty user-friendly, so it shouldn't be that big a deal."
Hardware including computers, new servers, monitors, accessories and labor totaled about $65,000. The software, developed by those who worked in public safety, cost just under $154,000 including annual maintenance, bringing the project total to about $219,000.
Though costly, the upgrades have long been in the works and will leave room to grow for the system, which requires a great deal of storage space for reports and files, said Rosanna Violi, assistant to the township administrator.
"We're preparing ourselves for long-term, because this is going to be something that is only going to get bigger," she said. "There's room to grow for the next few years so that when we get more data, more files ... we'll be able to save that and back that up and be able to prepare ourselves for the next three to five years."
"It's something that 10 years ago you said, 'I wish we could do this.' Well, now you can do this."
Looking further into how the computer system could evolve didn't make much sense, as predictions of technology advances would likely be outdated.
Though there are many variables, such as security and back-up ability, a future solution could be cloud-based storage that uses the Internet as a destination for files rather than in-house servers, Violi suggested. But that would be a big step that requires much more discussion.
"We at Perrysburg Township acknowledge that we need to be ahead of the game on this. We think it is a great advance for the department, and we want to be at the forefront of this," Violi said.
"We've been talking about it for such a long time. We are so excited that it's finally here."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 11:08
 

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