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Deltek salutes national telecommunicators

Every April, National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week celebrates the work that telecommunicators engage in every day to keep their communities safe. These individuals are often the first line of defense in the face of tragedy and work to keep everyone calm on what may be the worst day of their lives. When a call comes in to 911, they are the ones charged with gathering salient information, determining which agencies are best to respond, and dispatching first responders.

Public safety telecommunicators also provide key instructions for individuals calling in with an emergency, whether instructing them where to hide during a home invasion or how to give CPR and clear an airway.  

Telecommunicators rely not only on their extensive training and people skills, but also a complex network of technologies to ensure the appropriate help arrives at the correct emergency location as quickly as possible. In the past year, communities nationwide have recognized the importance of these essential technologies and have sought to upgrade or replace antiquated systems.

In the past year, several solicitations were released for the following technologies:

  • 911 (Enhanced and Next Generation): 24 
  • Records Management Systems (RMS): 19 
  • Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD): 13 
  • Automatic Vehicle Location Systems (AVL): 7 
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS): 6

Many public safety priorities for 2012 and 2013 emphasize increasing utilization of these systems and improving first-response efforts, which rely heavily on cooperation of neighboring jurisdictions or agencies in the event of an emergency. Increased interoperability coupled with the ability to receive information in real time has greatly enhanced overall telecommunications.

While most state and local governments manage their own dispatch centers, there is likely to be a continued focus on consolidation and partnerships between agencies to curb costs and improve efficiency. Dispatch equipment such as CAD, RMS, GIS mapping and AVL technology are typically procured through a formal solicitation process. Usually, CAD and RMS equipment are procured together, but as most of these technologies require integration, agencies may choose to procure all equipment within a technology suite. This helps agencies save time and money and allows for simultaneous upgrade and implementation processes.

The upgrade or enhancement of 911 systems to next generation has been on the radar of many governments over the past few years due to many systems becoming obsolete. Next generation 911 advancements have put pressure on agencies to incorporate new capabilities into 911 systems, such as the ability to receive text-to-911, video streaming and picture messaging. Most 911 projects are implemented through a formal procurement process, and some agencies even prefer to utilize an RFI or hire a consultant prior to formal implementation. Despite tight budgets, agencies will likely continue to put forth the effort to ensure the most efficient and advanced dispatching technologies are purchased because, like dispatchers, these systems are central to the mission of public safety agencies.

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Deltek pulse: justice/public safety and homeland security March review

The most common terms appearing in justice/public safety and homeland security solicitations during March were fire alarm and alerting, camera/surveillance and consultant. The below word cloud provides a visual interpretation of key term frequency.

  • Number of Public Safety Bids: 946
  • Top three states (by number of solicitations released): California (116), Pennsylvania (65) and Texas (65)
  • Top three keywords:  fire alarm and alerting, camera/surveillance and consultant

Frequency of terms:

  • Radio: 8 (6 local and 2 state)
  • 911: 1 (1 state, 1 local)

Compared to the flurry of activity in February, March proved to be a slow month for procurement across the country. One trend that carried over, unfortunately, was that of canceled projects. Governments continue to be concerned with sequestration and the potential funding impact it may have, which was especially evident in early March. The majority of canceled projects were at the state level, which is expected to get the most immediate impact of sequestration.

New Jersey’s Department of the Treasury canceled its requirement for statewide 911 telecommunications equipment, and West Virginia canceled its video surveillance system project. Some locations are even putting aside critical systems replacements in favor of cheaper upgrade options, as Sacramento, Calif., did with its radio system project.

Very little uniformity was seen in March in terms of the types of projects procured across states and localities. Fear of increased spending cuts has likely caused purchasers to create even more rigid priority lists and focus only on the most essential items first. Sandy Springs, Ga., for example, released a solicitation for its unified radio system project management opportunity, which will cover several cities in north Fulton County. The city plans to purchase the system off of a statewide contract once the project manager makes its recommendation. Likewise, Charleston County, S.C., released a long-awaited RFP for its public safety software system after releasing two RFIs for the project beginning in 2010. The project has undergone significant transformation from the original RFIs, with entities and systems joining and being removed over the last three years, as is common in projects that take significant time to finish.

Analyst’s Take

The evolution of projects from an initial RFI will be important for vendors to remember considering RFIs were particularly abundant in March for both state and local governments. The technologies sought through these RFIs vary widely and provide opportunities for vendors across the board. Orange County, Fla., released an RFI for thermal imaging cameras, while the Florida State Courts System released one for remote court interpreting technology. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) released an RFI for a new radio system, and the state of Iowa released one for digital radios and communications devices

The prevalence of RFIs continues to be an encouraging sign that the market may pick up; however, vendors should still practice cautious optimism. As seen in Charleston County, it can take several years before funding is secured for projects mentioned in RFIs, and the scope can shift significantly. Agencies often use RFIs as a way to estimate the cost of their projects and are often forced to cut back on the physical scope or requirements upon learning the true cost.

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Deltek pulse: justice/public safety and homeland security February review

The most common terms appearing in justice/public safety and homeland security solicitations during February were fire alarm and alerting, consultant and radio. The below word cloud provides a visual interpretation of key term frequency.  

  • Number of Public Safety Bids: 971
  • Top three states (by number of solicitations released): California (106), Pennsylvania (88) and Georgia (57)
  •  Top three keywords:  fire alarm and alerting, consultant and radio

Frequency of terms

  • Radio: 9 (7 local and 2 state)
  • 911: 1 (1 state, 0 local)



Weeks after the narrowbanding deadline passed, counties finally seem to be making progress in meeting the new requirements. Several counties awarded projects for new radio systems in February, including Chester County, Penn., and Putnam County, N.Y. Other localities released radio solicitations, including Yadkin County, N.C.; Otsego County, N.Y.; and St. Tammany Parish, La., which released a solicitation to rent radio equipment and trunked repeater services.

While there was significant progress made in several projects as long-awaited RFPs were released, funding continues to be a huge hindrance for many governments. Though several states and localities are used to releasing RFIs to gain a better understanding of technologies and how they could be applied to their specific needs, more and more agencies are using RFIs to determine costs of solutions and whether they can afford to pursue implementation efforts.

Many of these RFIs used for price analysis are resulting in canceled projects a year or two after the initial RFI release. North Carolina released an RFI for computer-aided translation software for the Administrative Office of the Courts in August 2012, and canceled the project in February 2013. Likewise, the California Administrative Office of the Courts canceled its online privacy protection service project, which an RFI was released for in March 2011. Pennsylvania made a surprising choice, given recent media focus on gun control, and canceled its instant gun check system project, which was first mentioned in a 2007 RFI.

Analyst’s Take

Despite many projects being canceled across agencies due to funding, this does not mean they won’t be pursued in the future. Some agencies are moving the projects in house, while others are waiting for the economy to improve. Further entities are seeking funding for necessary projects in unconventional ways. After the rejection of budget requests, the Austin Police Department is seeking forfeited funds to pay for one of its projects. Rockdale County, N.C., is submitting a request for capital appropriations for one of its larger projects, and is also considering applying for grants.

The trend of canceled projects and seeking untraditional funds is likely a response to the government’s sequestration measures, which will likely mean fewer grants for state and local agencies. At this point, however, agencies have been dealing with budget constraints for years, and some projects must be completed. Vendors should keep an eye on the budget process in key localities, including any chances agencies may have to seek additional funds if projects are not included in the finalized budget. This is particularly true for agencies that may have access to forfeited funds or vendors that serve the 911 market, as many 911 boards can spend money collected from citizens’ telephone bills as the 911 surcharge.

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E911 analytic software a precursor to NG911?

Many states and localities are moving, though oftentimes slowly, toward next generation 911 (NG911). The Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued a request for information (RFI) in mid-2012 to gain information on proceeding with its statewide system. This month, the Massachusetts State 911 Department issued a statement of work to obtain a somewhat new 911 system – one that will lay the initial groundwork for the future NG911 solicitation.

The statement of work provides prospective vendors, already authorized under state contract ITS43SolProv, with information on the Wireless 911 Direct Project. The initiative is a follow up to a 2010 pilot project for a wireless routing proof of concept. That pilot/proof of concept led to this wireless initiative, which will provide the Massachusetts 911 Department and local public safety answering points (PSAPs) with the tools and analytic capabilities to analyze 911 call data from the E911 system. The information obtained through this analysis will allow the state to view historical 911 call records for all cellular sectors throughout the commonwealth. The data can provide information on the system’s functionality and the ability to determine, by cellular sector and other parameters, the operational impact of the direct routing of 911 wireless calls to local PSAPs. Another component of this system is the ability to visualize the data on maps from its existing MassGIS Web mapping service.

While other states may have similar functionality embedded into their E911 and NG911 systems, this solicitation to contract a specific vendor for these services is one of the first of its kind. It makes sense to have this capability prior to the implementation of an NG911 system. This data, which will be completely searchable, can provide insight into the accuracy of each cellular sector and tower, as well as whether calls are being correctly routed. The information will be vital when eventually accepting text messages, pictures and other data over an ESInet/NG911 system.

Analyst’s Take:

Deltek has written extensively about NG911 in the past, citing that it would become one of the top procurement initiatives across the country in 2012 and beyond. As standards are increasingly established, agencies will begin to feel more comfortable with the technology’s longevity and not worry about whether it will be obsolete in a few years.

Many agency heads may look to Massachusetts and feel that a technology to track and analyze cellular data might be an ideal first step toward NG911. This type of system will likely increase the overall costs, but having detailed information on the current operation of cellular towers and other infrastructure may save money in the long-term costs of NG911. Agencies should discuss this type of system with existing E911 providers or seek information through an RFI on how vendors could help with transition and implementation efforts.

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Deltek pulse: justice/public safety and homeland security December review

The most common technologies and services procured across states and localities in December were fire alarm and suppression systems, security/cctv systems and 911 systems. The word cloud below provides a visual interpretation of key-term frequency.

  • 911 systems: 6 solicitations
  • Security/ CCTV systems: 19 solicitations
  • Fire Alarm or Suppression Systems: 19 solicitations

Public safety communications for cities and counties around the country hit a turning point in December. While there were numerous trends throughout 2012 – from an increase in the use of NG911 technologies, to public safety institutions beginning to use cloud-based options for computer-aided dispatch (CAD) records management systems (RMS) – one trend exceeded them all: narrowbanding.

December was the final month localities had to meet the FCC’s narrowbanding requirement or request waivers if they had no hope of doing so. Even those granted waivers were required to have concrete plans in place about how and when they expect to meet the deadline, and localities worked diligently to put those in place. Several localities announced plans to replace or upgrade their radio systems in the near future, and others made definitive decisions about how they would be moving forward with those projects. Fulton County, Ga., released an RFP on December 28 for its radio system, and Carroll County, Md., made the decision to move forward with its radio system without the aid of a consultant. Despite the passage of the narrowbanding deadline, many counties and cities will still be looking to upgrade their radio systems in the coming months and years, as a large number have not yet met the FCC’s requirements.   

Radio solicitations were not the only ones released in December; several states and larger localities also moved forward with large-scale projects that had been in the works. The city of Freemont, along with Dodge County, Nebraska, released an RFP for 911 call processing equipment. Massachusetts released an RFP for its electronic filing project two years after the RFI was issued. The state also released a solicitation for an inmate phone system for all facilities run by the state corrections department. 

Numerous requests for information for major projects were also released in December. Kansas released an RFI for E911 GIS for all of the state’s public safety answering points (PSAPs), and Vermont issued a statewide RFI for an automated vehicle locating system for the Department of Public Safety. 

The widespread release of solicitations highlights one of December’s main trends: increased clarity regarding the direction of projects. Across the county, it seems as though decisions were finally being made about how to proceed with projects. Florida finally canceled its initiative to develop a federated security plan after releasing an RFI in July 2011, and in Alaska, development of a solicitation for a case management system has officially begun. 

The last major trend of December involved, unsurprisingly, increased interest in emergency notification systems. After the devastating weather phenomenon experienced in 2012, from July’s derecho to Superstorm Sandy, localities are beginning to realize the importance of being able to contact citizens at a moment’s notice. The increase in electronic communications has underscored the need for communities such as Honolulu, Hawaii, and Illinois State University to branch out in how they communicate with citizens.

Analyst’s Take

Vendors should be on the lookout for more solicitation releases in the coming months. It is likely that departments will issue RFIs to gather budget information for projects they hope to pursue in the coming fiscal year, which begins for most states and localities on July 1. Many departments will also begin assembling their budget proposals if they have not done so already, and they will require a clear picture of expected costs. This may also be the reason for the rise in solicitations. Often, departments are required to use the funds they have been granted before the end of the fiscal year, or they risk losing them. By releasing RFPs now, it is likely that they are counting on being able to award them and sign a contract prior to the beginning of the fiscal year. 

Many local agencies are also taking the fiscal cliff and sequestration into account as they make decisions about what projects will move forward. While the fiscal cliff was averted earlier this week, the bill passed acted only as a stopgap measure, and sequestration is still very much a reality. Congress only has until March 1 to pass additional measures to keep sequestration from going into effect. Agencies are therefore likely to continue working quickly to utilize any federal grant money they were given for this year. Should sequestration take effect, this grant money may be reduced or eliminated completely; so many communities are seeking to upgrade systems now in anticipation of the reduction in funds that may come next year.

These factors help explain the increased clarity on whether projects will be moving forward, as it will be imperative for solicitations to be released in the next few months to ensure that localities have time to conduct a complete evaluation period prior to the end of the current budget cycle. For those working on larger, multiyear projects, or that are allowed to carry over funds, it is still likely that procurement and program officers will be looking to move forward with projects as soon as possible. Expect solicitations to be released sometime toward the end of Q1 or beginning of Q2 so that agencies will be ready to award projects once FY 13 funds become available in July.  

 

Counties across Indiana plan for NG911

Indiana is home to the IN911 network, one of the most advanced IP public safety networks in the United States. The network is capable of handling all wireless 911 calls made throughout state, and as of this year, 21 Indiana counties are connected and using next generation 911-compliant equipment. Understandably, jurisdictions across the state have been making a vigilant effort to upgrade 911 technologies to NG911.
 
Allen County is just one of the counties transitioning to NG911. It, along with the city of Fort Wayne, released a request for proposals (RFP) in October to upgrade to a VoIP NG911 phone system. Fort Wayne and Allen County are part of the Indiana Consolidated Communications Partnership (CCP) to centralize communication services. The upgraded system will be installed in all participating public safety answering points (PSAPs) to include Adams, Wells, Steuben, and Whitley Counties.
 
Dekalb, Ind., has also been working toward improving its emergency communications. The project began in June 2012 with the opening of the county’s new dispatch center, which combined the services of three centers in one location. As part of the overall project, the county partnered with Frontier and INdigital Communications to implement Solacom 911 equipment for the facility. The county currently uses the INdigital network to receive and transfer 911 calls using the most up-to-date technology. As far as plans for NG911, the county anticipates working closely with both vendors to transition to a fully compliant NG911 solution.
 
In addition, the counties of Madison, Hamilton, Hancock, Shelby, Johnson, Morgan, Hendricks and Boone all partnered for a new 911 telephone switch. Hancock, Madison and Hendricks are live on the new network, and the rest of the counties are expecting to transition within the next few months. All counties are currently part of a hosted 911 solution provided by AT&T. Marion, a neighboring county, has also expressed interest in joining this multi-county project. The county has been looking to upgrade its 911 system to NG911, but has been patiently awaiting budget approval. Joining the multi-county effort could ultimately help expedite this process and be a potential cost-saving opportunity for the county.
 
Analyst’s Take
 
The transition to NG911 has become more of a regionalized effort in Indiana. This could partly be due to the fact that all counties share a common network and have the capability to upgrade. Most counties seem to already have a plan in place to upgrade their current technology, but cost is a major obstacle. By partnering with neighboring jurisdictions, agencies will be able to share in the cost of the upgrade.
 
A complete NG911 environment within the state of Indiana could allow for new costs to be shared among state and local jurisdictions, but overall costs for a statewide NG911 system have posted a challenge. Wireless calls represent about 60-80 percent of Indiana’s total 911 call volume, but the revenue received from wireless fees remains inadequate to fund a statewide system. These challenges, therefore, require much needed planning and organization to be able to obtain additional funding through federal grants.
 
Indiana has taken a step in the right direction by developing a statewide 911 plan. The plan has created many potential long-term benefits for the state as it relies much on the contribution of stakeholders to help build and strengthen planning efforts for NG911. Vendors should note that it is important to get involved early in the planning process within states like Indiana, as there will be more opportunity to take part in future implementation efforts.

NASCIO divulges state CIO priorities in annual survey top tens

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) recently published its 2013 State CIO priorities and priority technologies, based on its annual state CIO survey. The survey is a valued peak into the minds and wish lists of state IT executives, and when compared against past priorities, we can see that consolidating existing IT infrastructure and optimizing it for the future (particularly for the cloud) will be among the highest priorities for CIOs this year.
 
 
In this year’s top three, we see a fairly consistent pattern among the states of shifting away from the budget cutting, cost-saving measures of the post-recession years, toward much-needed reinvestment in long-term IT infrastructure. Among last year’s top three, consolidation/optimization remains number one, but budget and cost control falls to number five, and governance drops off the list completely. The second spot this year goes to cloud services, which didn’t even make the list until 2011. Security makes a triumphant return to the top three after being a middle-of-the-pack priority since 2009. In my opinion, these three priorities are all connected and track fairly well with what Deltek has seen in the market over the past few years.
Initiatives to consolidate or upgrade existing data centers have been, or are taking place in Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Among these states, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Texas require significant cloud capabilities for their new consolidated data centers. In many cases, states are looking to the private sector to implement these initiatives and guide them on the right path. Of course, as the importance of cloud-based IT services rise, so do concerns about secure technologies. While security is no longer the barrier to cloud entry that it has been in the past, it is and will remain one of the top concerns for CIOs as they continue integrating the cloud into their existing IT infrastructure.
2013 CIO Technology Priorities
NASCIO also queries its members about their top 10 priority technologies. While the shakeup from last year’s top three is less pronounced, we continue to see a distinct pattern emerging in the minds of state CIOs. It is clear that many envision a future government workforce that is mobile, virtual and able to access workplace resources from anywhere on the planet. While this likely falls short of representing a harbinger of doom for the face-to-face,  brick-and-mortar way of doing state business, the investment in these top three technologies may very well be laying the groundwork for such a future.
 

 Not surprisingly, the new top technology pursued this year is cloud-based services. This comes as no surprise to Deltek, which has seen an explosion of cloud-related procurement in the last three years, as well as procurements for other technologies with specific cloud-integration components built into solicitations. We are quickly approaching the point (if we have not reached it already) where cloud integration requirements for state technology RFPs are the norm, not the exception.
Also notable is the journey of mobile workforce technologies, which hung around as a low-level CIO priority from 2007-2009, dropped out of the top 10 entirely in 2010-2011, and returned this year with a vengeance as the number two priority technology. As cloud computing continues to make it easier for government employees to virtually access their workplace from remote environments, governments are planning to put some serious dollars into making sure their workforce has the mobile computing tools necessary to take advantage of this new environment.
 For the full version of this AP with a complete breakdown of policy and technology priorities, click here (subscription required)

Deltek pulse: justice/public safety and homeland security November review

Deltek pulse: justice/public safety and homeland security November review

The most common technologies and services procured across states and localities in October were fire alarm and suppression systems, consultants for all types of projects and radio systems. The word cloud below provides a visual interpretation of key-term frequency. 

  • Radio System: 4 solicitations 
  • Consultant: 7 solicitations 
  • Fire Alarm or Suppression Systems: 26 solicitations

In November 2011’s recap blog, Deltek reported on two major contract awards in the justice and public safety market: one for a consultant for Dallas’ P25-compliant radio system, and one for Arlington, Va’s computer-aided dispatch/records management/comprehensive integrated justice system consultant. Deltek anticipated solicitations being released in the next year for the resulting systems, and we were half right. Arlington did in fact release a solicitation for its integrated suite of police applications, for which proposals are currently under evaluation. Dallas, on the other hand, placed its entire radio system project on hold as it reassesses how to move forward. The county is not providing further information on what specifically is being reconsidered.

This November was fairly devoid of consulting projects as cities and counties focused more on systems-based projects. Radio projects are still popular, however, as all levels of government race to meet the narrowbanding deadline. Portland, Ore., release an RFP for a public safety voice communications system, and LA County has announced plans to sole source the rebanding of its countywide integrated radio system to Harris Corporation. Davidson County, N.C., confirmed its intent to move forward with implementing a trunked radio system once funding becomes available. Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is also waiting on funding before proceeding with its P25-compliant 800MHz radio system project. The consultant hired in 2010 recommended moving ahead with the project immediately; however, due to the city’s signification budget constraints, it will likely not be funded until 2018.

This lack of funding for radio systems and other projects seems to be a significant trend across all levels of government in the U.S. The Florida Department of Education has placed an access control and camera system on hold due to lack of funding, and Colorado’s Office of the Governor has to put its microwave network assessment consulting project on hold for the same reason. Forsyth County, Ga., has been seeking funding through numerous grant sources for several years to fund its thermal imaging cameras project, though no money been received at this point. 

Analyst’s Take

The lack of available grant funding also seems to be a trend, not just for November, but throughout 2012. The longer austerity measures are implemented across the country, the more commonplace this situation will become. Governments can no longer assume funds will become available when their budgets fall short. Vendors should begin expecting lengthier timelines for projects to give agencies additional time to find funding.

Though good news seems to be scarce, not all is lost. Many agencies are moving forward with projects, particularly those that have been in the works for some time. For example, Missoula, Mo., released three long-awaited solicitations in November, for mobile data computers, a mobile digital video system, and physical security electronics for the police department. This suggests that governments are willing to proceed with projects once they are completely planned out and everything has been finalized. Still, the financial constraints faced by nearly all of the states has not stopped some from going through the time and expense of releasing solicitations, only to have them canceled with the announcement that they will be rebid. As reported by Joanna Salini earlier this month, Maine found itself in this situation with its next generation 911 system. Vendors should keep an eye on projects that have been canceled after already reaching the solicitation stage, as the majority of those will be rebid at a later time, often with similar specifications.

 

Maine scraps $32 million contract

The state of Maine has decided to scrap a $32 million contract to upgrade the statewide emergency 9-1-1 system to next generation 9-1-1. The awarded contract to FairPoint Communications was overturned due to improper scoring requirements following an award protest from two bidders, Oxford Networks and Intrado.
 
The state’s current 9-1-1 environment, provided by FairPoint, can only administer a limited number of data to customer praise equipment (CPE) installed within each public safety answering point (PSAP). Customer name and home address associated with a wireless number are not delivered with a wireless call. The state is looking to upgrade to an Internet-based, secure IP network infrastructure that can receive emergency notifications from different feeds in real time, including text messages from mobile devices as well as other notification services. The state had an initial deadline of August 2013, but may have to go to the drawing board again.
 
Maine has not made a formalized decision on whether a new request for proposals (RFP) will be issued. Due to the state’s pressing need to implement NG911, it is likely that a rebid will take place in the near future.
 
Analyst’s Take
 
Challenges to multimillion dollar procurements occur more frequently than one would assume. It is important for agencies to promote procurement practices that ensure a fair and open bidding process. Agencies should take the extra time to develop clear and concise requirements to avoid having to redo solicitations in entirety; they should also provide adequate deadlines that can be met by bidding participants. This is especially true for major statewide projects that have a specified deadline. Rehashing the entire procurement process costs states and localities a significant amount of time and money that could be used for drafting and implementing other needed projects. Maine’s proposed NG9-1-1 project has taken more than15 months, and still no contract award has been finalized.
 
Lastly, vendors should always familiarize themselves with protest rules and regulations in case bidding procedures are challenged, as well as learn how to appeal an award protest.

 

Deltek Pulse: justice/public safety and homeland security October review

The most common technologies and services procured across states and localities in October were inmate phone systems, radio systems and fire alarm and suppression systems. The word cloud below provides a visual interpretation of key-term frequency.

Inmate Phone Systems: 4 solicitations

Radio System: 7 solicitations

Fire Alarm or Suppression Systems: 23 solicitations

States and counties across the country were busy making key decisions about future projects in October. Many long-awaited projects previously on hold for months or even years had their fates determined, whether it be to move forward or finally cancel them. Nevada, on behalf of the Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA), made the decision to release a request for proposals (RFP) for security and life safety systems, which covers burglar alarms, fire suppression, CCTV and access control systems. Fourteen states are currently slated to participate in the procurement. 

The Nevada Department of Administration moved forward with another large project as well, deciding to release a solicitation for its statewide long-term evolution (LTE) broadband plan after the original solicitation was canceled earlier this year. Florida also decided to proceed with a large communications project, determining that it would release a solicitation based off of a previous request for information (RFI) for its statewide NG911 routing services project.

On the local level, the city of Fort Wayne, Ind., along with Allen County’s Consolidated Communications Partnership released an RFP for a VoIP next generation 911 system, which will be installed in PSAPs in Adams, Wells, Steuben and Whitley counties. Several localities also made the final leap in the procurement process by awarding projects. Alameda County, Calif., awarded a contract for its public safety radio system coverage to TriPower Group for $500,000, and Mercer County, N.J., awarded its radio system project to Cassidian Communications for a total of $7.2 million. Yadkin County, N.C., a step behind Mercer County, awarded a contract for its radio system consultant to 4G Communications for a total of $30,500, and hopes to release a solicitation for the system itself once the consultant has completed their report.

Orange County, Calif., decided to recommend awarding a contract for its automated biometric identification system to MorphoTrak, and Rhode Island awarded a project to provide wire transfers to inmate trust fund accounts to JPAY. Maine, on the other hand, put two corrections projects on hold to develop plans for the state’s control room consolidation effort.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections still hopes to move forward with the purchase of offender case management software; however, without funding, the department is unable to develop a timeframe for when the project might progress. Other localities made the decision to give up on projects they had been trying to capitalize for some time. Pittsburg, for example, canceled its security camera system that was due to be installed at schools across the city due to lack of funding.

Analyst’s Take 

Communications systems of all stripes seemed to be the primary focus at all levels of government this October. Coincidentally, this was also the case in October 2011 as states and localities spent the majority of their funding on similar projects. This year, many localities that met the narrowbanding deadline well in advance have begun looking at updating their aging radio systems, while others are still struggling to come up with funding and a plan to meet the FCC deadline.

On the other side of the communications spectrum, next generation 911 systems continue to move forward. It is likely that many smaller or cash-strapped communities that never managed to implement an enhanced 911 system will make the decision to skip that step and move directly into an NG system. This is likely to be particularly true for localities where a statewide system is already being implemented. Vendors should keep an eye out for cities and counties with older systems that may be looking to upgrade.

Overall, October seemed to be more settled than recent months. Counties and cities seemed to have a better understanding of not only what projects will be moving forward, but also when it will happen. Several counties, and even states, announced that solicitations would be released for large projects in the next few months, and vendors should begin keeping an eye out for them. The next few weeks before the holiday season would be a good time for vendors to reach out to contacts they may have been out of touch with for a while, as decisions may have been made on the status of a project. In several instances, decision were made to cancel projects in October, which, while not ideal, at least allows vendors to cross that project off of their list and focus priorities elsewhere. 

 

 

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