Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Editorial: Playing catch-up / The county's 911 system is progress, sort of 

This is a topic that we have discussed a number of times on the Sunday evening scanner net. I was somewhat disappointed that the editorial writer did not offer any pointers to possible solutions to the problem. The criticisms are right on the money and given the area's history not that hard to see and point out. Problems however still exists because of the round about way the solution was arrived at with some of the core issues never being addressed.

I would like to see the entire county divided into quadrants, six at the most preferably less, each with its own call center and radio dispatching point. There should be a single uniform radio system with everyone on the same band. It doesn't have to be a trunked system and I would prefer that it was not. What I would like to see is county government seek out competent and knowledgeable people who understand the technical requirements of their communications needs that will work up a plan based on sound engineering practices. I don't hold out much hope that will be the case but one can wish.

So here is what the editorial page of the Post Gazette had to say about Allegheny County's 911 system.

Editorial: Playing catch-up / The county's 911 system is progress, sort of
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In 2006, Allegheny County has finally joined the 1990s. The county this week is moving emergency dispatchers out of the last of its regional dispatch centers, the final step in consolidating to one countywide 911 system.
That is certainly a good thing, promising both improved service and increased efficiency. But given that it's 69 years since Britain debuted its "999" system, 38 years since the first 911 call placed in the United States, 24 years since Minneapolis-St. Paul launched a seven-county enhanced 911 system, 20 years since Allegheny County proposed a consolidated system and 16 years since the state began providing funding for countywide systems -- excuse us if our enthusiasm seems a bit faint.
The delay comes courtesy of our feudal system of 130 municipal nation-states. Local cities, boroughs and townships resisted when the county first proposed a centralized system in 1986, refused to bend when the state got involved in 1990, then achieved an ironic watershed in 1996, when 14 municipalities finally got together -- not to back consolidation -- but to sue to block the county's attempt to force them to share six dispatch centers.

To read the entire story follow this LINK.

While I am in favor of 911, I am not and never will be in favor of a mega Allegheny County dispatch center. When I dial 911 I want it to go to my LOCAL dispatch center be it the local PD or a local regional center (MAX 10 townships, much more creates the same issues as these single mega PSAP's), and this is possible in the 911 system via selective routing, its done now on exchanges that cross county borders. 911 YES, Single PSAP/Dispatching NO!
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