Ford’s roots are in helping city’s tech

Published 9:22 am Friday, July 24, 2015

Vicksburg information technology specialist Bill Ford is figuratively following in his grandfather’s footsteps.

A lot’s changed since then when Ford’s grandfather was an electrician for the fire department.

“When he started with the fire department their communications were with a series of bells and telegraph keys,” Ford told Triad members this week.

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Today, Ford helps fire and police communications, but the process is much more complex.

“I feel like I’ve got the job that my grandfather held with the Vicksburg Fire Department many years ago,” Ford said, adding his grandfather retired in 1958.

Today, Ford and other members of the information technology department care for hundreds of computers and radios. The fire radios were not installed until the mid 1940s

“We support about 300 computers, about 300 telephones and 400 or so radio users,” Ford said.

More than two decades ago when Ford began with the city, computer systems were rare. All records at VPD and the fire department were cataloged with index cards. But additional technology has made the computer system much more efficient, he said.

“Every record that has been put in with the Vicksburg Police Department since March 1994 is still in the system, so we’ve got about 21 years of data. You can go back and every case, every field interview, every contact somebody’s had with the police department … you can put their name in and it’ll pop it up,” Ford said.

The fire department also has access to more than two decades of data but they do not require nearly as much research as police, Fire Chief Charles Atkins said.

“When you’ve got that information that’s easily attainable, it certainly helps in finding a person and finding a name. There’s a lot of searches they can do,” Ford said.