County prepares for Next Generation 911

Whitley County’s existing 911 equipment is provided by Cassidian Communications and the service and support are through Century Link. Century Link refused to provide a contract of less than two years, at $19,000 per year, so Jones said he gathered information about D&M Communications, a company that is certified by Cassidian and that currently provides service to Allen County’s 911. 

“It’s a real thorn in my side,” Jones said of dealing with the red tape and service of the current 911 system. 

After discussing the six-month temporary contract with Cassidian and D&M Communications, Jones explained the upcoming 911 equipment. 

Ten counties, including Allen, Adams, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley, have formed the Northeast Indiana 911 Consortium to increase buying power and thus decrease costs. 

Jones listed the benefits to the new system: Every county in the consortium will have the same equipment and will see a huge savings in purchase price and will share database costs. In addition, anyone in the consortium will be able to work from any department and will have interoperability, meaning they can switch calls to surrounding counties in the case of an emergency. 

According to Jones, if Whitley County bought the equipment individually, the cost would be $250,000, but buying with the group rate cuts the cost to $130,000. The new 911 system will be paid for out of existing 911 funds. 

Three counties in the consortium—DeKalb, Noble and LaGrange—already ordered the new equipment from Frontier because they were in need of the equipment. Jones said that each county is on a different time schedule and Frontier is willing to work with the consortium and allow the counties to order individually while still receiving group pricing. 

Frontier has yet to be officially chosen as the new provider, but the initial quotes point to Frontier as the best choice. Jones said DeKalb and Wabash Counties are currently using Frontier, and it functions well. 

“Whitley County is going to save money by doing this,” Chairman of Commissioners Don Amber said, “but now you need the vehicle to get here.”

Amber said he supports the program, but Frontier must agree that each county may write an individual check, rather than writing a check to the consortium and then paying in one lump sum. Amber was insistent on this point in order to “keep the State Board of Accounts happy.” 

Jones asked for the Board’s approval to give Tim Lee, Director of Fort Wayne and Allen County 911, permission to negotiate on Whitley County’s behalf within the 911 Consortium to get the best deal in pricing and equipment. The Board approved his request and also approved the temporary six-month contract with Cassidian. 

In other Board news:

–Representatives of Passages Inc., Tom O’Neill, President, and David Lehman, VP of Finances, gave a presentation to the Commissioners regarding the services offered by their organization. Passages Inc. serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, providing employment opportunities, community connections, community living, transportation arrangements and affordable housing. Commissioners have currently earmarked $35,000 for Passages in the 2013 budget, which is yet to be adopted. 

–Vice Chairman of Commissioners George Schrumpf gave a report regarding Advanced Imaging Solutions, the company that is in charge of printers, scanners and copiers throughout the county’s offices. Last month, county employees made 538,000 copies at the average cost of $0.0245 per copy.

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