Dispatch upgrade to increase public safety

Posted at 7:18 PM, Mar 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-11 21:26:10-05

Literally hundreds of thousands of calls come into the Ada County Dispatch Center each year.

Every second counts when an emergency call comes into dispatch.

Thanks to a new computer system put into place this week, response times should be faster in the Treasure Valley.

The new, approximately $4.3 million system allows for deputies and officers from all over the valley to work together more efficiently and effectively.

"This has been a massive undertaking," says Major Ron Freeman, Ada County Sheriff's Office.

The system upgrade is a project that has been in the works for about three years now.

Two-thousand first responders including law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services providers have been trained on how to use the new system leading up to the big day.

On Tuesday, March 8 at 5 a.m., they flipped the switch.

Overall, ACSO officials say it was a smooth transition. Plus, if anyone out in the field has a problem, they can dial in to a temporary call center to troubleshoot.

"We had almost a 20-year-old system," Freeman says. "This is a brand new system with brand new technology that's going to effect not only public safety but our entire community for the better."

The biggest difference between the old system and the new system is the mapping capabilities.

Before, dispatchers would have to ask what unit was closest to a given call location.

Now, they don't have to since they can quickly pull up the map to pinpoint exactly where the units are. This goes for ambulances, law enforcement agencies from not only Ada County, but Boise, Meridian and Garden City Police, besides fire trucks.

The software was also installed in those emergency vehicles, so they can access more detailed information while out in the field than ever before.

"In the past, maybe, it would have taken 4-5 minutes [for an emergency response]," says Sgt. Craig Durrell with the ACSO. "Now, you have an officer arriving on scene in only a minute or two."

The new system was paid for through the accumulation of a $1 fee that goes into the emergency communications fund each time a cellular phone or landline is purchased.

The county also has a new dispatch center that is currently under construction in Meridian. Six On Your Side has bee been told the project is on schedule to be complete by the summer of 2017, if not sooner.