In the meantime, those interested in HIXs should examine Deltek’s recent expert analysis of state action.
This time last year, Deltek Analyst Kristin Howe blogged about technologies that allow public safety telecommunicators to do their jobs at the highest level. Technologies detailed included 911 systems, computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems, records management systems (RMS), geographic information systems (GIS), and automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems. All of these technologies play vital roles in public safety telecommunications, but major changes underway for 911 systems are sure to change the face of public safety.
Next generation 911 (NG911) is the next advancement in 911 technology. When using a basic 911 system, dispatchers do not have access to the phone number or location from which someone is calling; therefore, they must use a radio system to alert the appropriate emergency responders. Enhanced 911 routes the call to the closest public safety answering point (PSAP), where the dispatcher has automatic access to the caller's phone number and location. NG911 is a technology that upgrades or updates 911 calling services to be able to handle more than just voice calls. With the added capability of NG911 at PSAPs, dispatchers will have the ability to receive text messages, videos and pictures.
The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) identified the need to advance 911 systems in 2000, and has been working on developing requirements, standards, and information for NG911 ever since. Currently, NENA estimates NG911 standards and requirements will be completed by Q4 2012. Without standards, it is hard for NG911 to really take off because governments cannot write specifications for the technology, and vendors cannot develop a system that is NG911-compliant. Despite the current lack of formal standards, NG911 is desired by governments that want to upgrade or replace their antiquated systems and reap the highly-touted benefits of next generation technology.
Deltek Analyst Evan Halperin recently authored a report on the NG911 market that covers the key similarities and differences between NG911 projects at the state and local levels. In addition, the report delves into the Deltek database and provides further insight into the differences between state and local projects. Further, the report includes analysis surrounding the budget and financing for NG911 projects, a vendor landscape overview, and related grant information.
Dispatch technologies allow public safety telecommunicators to do their job, and the biggest change to their array of technologies in the near future will most likely be next generation 911. It will open up the doors for telecommunicators to receive more forms of media such as video, texts, and pictures. That ability will be priceless for public safety agencies in times of emergency and crisis. Once requirements and standards are fully developed, and funding is granted for NG911, agencies will pursue the technology more aggressively. However, just because standards and requirements are not complete does not mean agencies aren’t pursuing NG911 yet. Deltek is currently tracking more than 50 state and local government NG911 projects. Deltek is also tracking nearly 300 dispatch technology projects.
Of the more than 300 active dispatch projects Deltek is tracking, more than half of them are related to CAD systems, which makes it the most popular dispatch technology governments are seeking. There are roughly 180 active CAD-related projects in Deltek’s database. Localities are responsible for about 150 of those projects, with a total estimated value of approximately $580 million, or around $4 million a project. There are roughly 30 active state government CAD-related opportunities with a total estimated value of $250 million, or about $8 million a project. State government CAD projects are worth double the amount of local government projects because of their increased size and demand. Vendors may need to decide if it is worth putting the majority of their effort into a state government project, or if it is worth pursuing multiple local government opportunities to reach the same potential value.
The Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) developed the Kansas Law Enforcement Reporting (KLER) system, an integrated data solution combining field reporting, records management, electronic ticketing and court management functionalities. The main goal behind its development is to provide local law enforcement agencies with information-sharing capabilities for the electronic submission of reports.
KLER is a customized application that allows law enforcement agencies to share information electronically and complete reports more efficiently, as many local departments lack electronic reporting technology and don’t have the budgetary means to obtain it. The KLER system allows all agencies across the state to access the system at little to no cost. The system will be free for local police departments for two years, followed by a small annual fee for concurrent licenses. The system was initially used as part of a program for obtaining crash reporting data across the state, and has since expanded with the addition of three software components provided through vendor partnerships.
The ability to share data across departments has become more prevalent as departments seek to be more proactive in providing safer and smarter public safety measures. As agencies look to make their current solutions better with fewer resources, it is likely that they will be looking to develop their own integrated data solutions. Vendors looking to get into the public safety market should keep an eye on the need for integrated data solutions as they may offer an opportunity to partner with existing technology providers.
Despite National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week coming to a close, one thing that will remain open is the consideration of public safety answering point (PSAP) consolidation. As many state and local governments continue to struggle with growing deficits and no way to close their budget gaps, legislators must look at all aspects of their government to determine where costs can be cut. Governments, big and small, manage their own 9-1-1 dispatch centers that require manpower, up-to-date dispatching software, and proper funding for maintenance. These costs, along with the pressure to find funds to pay for necessary services, lead many localities to consider dispatch consolidation.
In short, dispatch consolidation requires several towns or cities in a close geographic proximity to develop a partnership (which usually requires memoranda of understanding [MOUs]) by which costs can be divided, and the savings for each locality will increase over time. The reasons for these types of consolidations are typically cost-related. Oftentimes, a locality does not have the funds to upgrade its obsolete computer aided dispatch system, or even to run the dispatch center altogether. While the cost benefits of consolidation can be significant over time, the initial hurdles to move toward consolidation are often difficult to navigate. There are typically many individuals or towns that are opposed to consolidation, which makes the task more difficult. Other times, the consolidation process could be smooth, but when new facility is up and running, it fails. This leaves a trail of wasted time and tax dollars, in addition to a loss of trust in government.
Within the Deltek database, we are tracking a number of consolidated dispatch projects, many of which started with a dispatch study. Western Springs, Illinois, issued a formal solicitation for a consolidation study for the possibility of developing a shared facility. Western Springs, La Grange and La Grange Park are interested in possibly sharing costs and equipment in a single dispatch center. While many consolidation projects bring together small cities within a county into a single dispatch facility, oftentimes even smaller towns require a similar task because one locality – as in this case with La Grange Park – does not operate with a computer aided dispatch/records management system (CAD/RMS), or cannot afford to upgrade its existing system. It is important for vendors providing implementation equipment to work with agencies and ensure that the localities are able to handle the added burden of covering a larger area with more citizens.
While PSAP consolidation is something that many state-level agencies are requiring of their smaller localities, there is always going to be resistance among government officials and taxpaying citizens. It is important for all towns, cities and counties involved to ensure that a well-thought-out plan is developed, ideally by a professional consultant who can provide a variety of cost and technical details. Reducing the number of PSAP locations, even by just a few in more scarcely populated areas, could increase those dispatch facilities’ ability to upgrade to newer technologies in the future, such as next generation 911 (NG911). Vendors must be cautious when providing their reports to local governments, as those agencies may not be as enthusiastic about consolidation, and will need strong convincing.
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