Danville purchases new computer-aided dispatch system for $244K

Published 8:16 am Friday, December 1, 2017

The City of Danville has approved the first major purchase associated with a overhaul of its 911 center’s dispatch equipment. City commissioners approved this week spending $244,073.59 for a new computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system from Knoxville-based company GeoConex.

“This is only one purchase of probably very many to come,” said Rebecca Hafley, communications director at the 911 call center.

According to a 911 capital upgrade cost sheet provided by City Attorney Stephen Dexter on Thursday, the total expected cost of the planned upgrades is around $464,000. That includes the CAD system; “911 call-taking equipment;” dispatcher consoles; a call recorder unit; labor and materials to retrofit the basement of Danville City Hall to hold the call center; and new equipment, according to the cost sheet.

Email newsletter signup

Hafley said the CAD system is what dispatchers use to keep warrant information, call logs and “everything we do, day-to-day, minute-to-minute.”

Four companies looked at Danville’s request for a CAD system and two submitted bids: GeoConex bid $244,073.59 and Zuercher Technologies bid $371,056.

Hafley said in addition to the price difference, staff also liked that GeoConex is closer to Danville if a problem occurs and that the annual costs are fixed. Zuercher’s annual costs would have increased every year.

The upgraded CAD system will have new features such as the ability to get automatic locations on cell phone calls using GPS and cell phone towers; display emergency vehicle locations on maps; and easier reporting and analysis tools for supervisors.

Danville Police Chief Tony Gray said the system will allow police officers to access the CAD system directly in their vehicles, rather than having to call dispatch to get information.

“It will eliminate some things that dispatch has to communicate back and forth to the officer; it will make them more efficient,” Gray said. “The same with fire and EMS and other agencies — they will have access to those screens. … It will help tremendous(ly) with efficiency for dispatch.”

Officials noted the new system would be fully compatible with “emergency medical dispatch” services, which Danville now plans to offer as soon as Jan. 1.

EMD service means dispatchers are able to give callers instructions on medical procedures such as CPR, so that help can be provided to someone having an emergency before EMS can arrive at the scene.

Boyle County officials have expressed concerns that the county would be required to spend as much as $50,000 in order to upgrade its equipment to maintain functionality on the new system. Gray said that’s not the case — Boyle County’s existing radio equipment will still work and upgrades to access the new features of the system such as vehicle tracking are optional.

Gray said Danville also plans to switch radio frequencies in the future because there are too many unauthorized people now accessing the current frequency.

While that may mean some of Danville’s communications will be “scrambled” to Boyle County, it doesn’t mean there won’t be communication — the old frequency will still work and city and county responders will still be able to talk to each other, he said.

“We gave some agencies access to our frequency so they could monitor in certain situations,” Gray said, explaining only supervisors were supposed to have access. “Those agencies have given that frequency out to everybody that works for them and they have been on our frequency inappropriately. So as we move forward, we will restrict that access, but it will not interfere in emergency services whatsoever. 

“Everything we’ve done is to increase safety and for the betterment of Boyle County.”