E-911 works toward new dispatch system launch

By Joel Davis 

The Blount County Communications Center continues to move forward on implementing a new computer-assisted dispatch system.

In July, the E-911 Board of Directors approved the purchase a new computer-aided dispatch system from Spillman Technologies Inc. Blount County, Maryville and Alcoa have all gotten on board with purchases of related technology.

County 911 Director Jeff Caylor said training on the new system began early this year. “The first three weeks or so was really for a lot of administrative training, and a lot of the information technology people and administrative people were involved,” he said. “There was a lot of configuration involved. Any time you buy software like that, you have different options to configure to fit your needs.”

Since that time, Blount County’s law enforcement agencies and emergency responders have begun training as well. “They started their mobile training,” Caylor said. “That is probably going to be the most lengthy segment of the training because those are the actual mobile data units that are out in the cruisers and the field. With all three (agencies) involved with the mobile side, every officer that is out in a cruiser has to go through that training. That’s a lot of folks to push through. That will be taking place through early March.”

Training ‘going really well’

E-911 is expected to go live with the new system around March 22, Caylor said. “I’m sure we’ll have some glitches here and there because that’s normal for this type of thing, but so far the training is going really well, and we’re getting a lot of our stuff entered on our end. We’ve been busy working on that.”

County Commissioner Mike Caylor, who is a member of the E- 911 Board of Directors, said Thursday that the board has worked hard to find a way to update the existing dispatch system. “To say it’s on its last legs is a compliment,” he said. “It’s done.”

The cities of Alcoa and Maryville as well as the Blount County Sheriff’s Office have all purchased compatible technology.

Alcoa purchased a Spillman mobile interface and records management systems. Maryville purchased the mobile technology but plans to continue using its own records management system.

Reports can be filled out in field

The mobile system will allow local law enforcement agencies to fill out reports from the field and dispatchers to track the location of emergency vehicles.

“Obviously, it’s still a work in progress,” Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp said. “We will not go live probably until March or April. We’ve been doing a lot of training.”

The County Commission in November approved a $579,064 expenditure for the Blount County Sheriff’s Office to purchase a new records management system from Spillman. The BCSO had already been looking at replacing its existing records management system, which has been in use since 2002.

Most of the cost of the records management package, $479,064, came out of dedicated information technology reserves that are funded through court fees, plus $100,000 that had been approved by the E-911 Board.

“We are moving along with Spillman,” said BCSO spokeswoman Marian O’Briant. “We are in training classes with 911, Maryville, and Alcoa on the mobile part of the system. We are waiting on the hardware, as the laptops in the patrol cars will have to be replaced to use the system. We will start training in April on the records and jail side of the agency. We hope to go live with everything in mid-September.”

The November purchase did not include the necessary upgrades for computer systems in the Sheriff’s Office vehicles. There are plans to purchase those as part of the projects slated for funding out of the $1.3 million information technology capital fund approved by the County Commission on Dec. 15.

The Blount County Commission on Thursday approved a contract with Mindboard Inc. to serve as an information technology consultant for a $1.3 million upgrade to county government infrastructure.

About $122,000 of the previously estimated IT capital needs for the county is related to the Sheriff’s Office, including about $93,000 for 100 mobile terminals for patrol vehicles.

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