New computer 911 system could save county money

Published 10:45 am Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A new computer-aided dispatch system for Vicksburg Warren E-911 could be operational by late August, officials said Monday.

A $309,000 offer from Southaven-based ADSI is on the table for the Warren County Board of Supervisors to take up next week. The deal for the new system, dubbed in emergency parlance a CAD, carries with it the promise of savings and versatility over the current system on which financing notes were to end today, officials said.

“We’ll pay for it out of surcharge money, over time,” said Jason Tatum, the dispatch center’s executive director, who said the CEO of the company visited him twice as part of pitch to make the system a pilot project of sorts on the local level, along with a similar system being installed in Livingston Parish, La. The company already sells equipment to state law enforcement agencies in Mississippi, including the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol and Vicksburg Police Department, Tatum said.

“The (Vicksburg) police department has been using this software for a long time,” Tatum said.

The E-911 Commission OK’d the purchase after eight companies expressed interest, purchasing agent Tonga Vinson said. That process was winnowed to two last week before ADSI’s offer beat out the next-lowest offer, a $474,000 proposal from a Tyler, Texas company, Vinson said. The company has told officials it can install the system within 120 days.

It replaces one installed in 2008 in the months before the dispatch headquarters moved from the basement of the county courthouse to a building at First North and Clay streets. The current system came at a higher price tag, $518,442.93, and was manufactured by AT&T and Positron, a partnership that is now defunct. In Mississippi, a $1 surcharge fees on cellphone bills goes to finance emergency dispatch centers in the state. In 2005, supervisors raised property taxes to pay for the current one.

Once installed, the new system offers real-time updates to officers and deputies in the field as the call evolves, Tatum said.

“Anything on that call that he’s writing a report on, he gets it,” Tatum said. “It just saves a lot of time.”

A $1,750 monthly maintenance agreement rolled into the new system’s financing is less than the $8,600 or so paid each month since the notes on the current system began. Also, it comes with software upgrades as needed, Tatum said.

“I don’t know how long I’ll be in this position, but my goal is to leave it better than how I found it,” Tatum told supervisors. “I do honestly believe that if we go with this product, they will have an evergreen policy. As long as we continue to pay that $1,750 a month in the maintenance agreement, they will update our CAD software. The next director won’t have to come here and ask for $300,000 again.”