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February 17, 2014

Software upgrades sought for jail, dispatch

New system to include needed redundancies

TERRE HAUTE — A $609,000 upgrade in software is needed for the Vigo County Jail, as well as a system that aids emergency dispatch officers, said Maj. Jeff Fox of the county’s sheriff department and Rob McMullen, the county’s E911 director.

Of that total price, $400,000 would come from fees collected from cellular and landline telephones. Fox and McMullen went before a committee of the Vigo County Council last week, which voted to give a favorable recommendation, moving the request before the full seven-member board at its March 11 meeting.

McMullen said the Computer Aided Dispatch, or CAD, system is used by dispatchers to record events. It also helps dispatchers determine the best response to a situation. McMullen said a dispatcher types an address into the CAD. The system then recommends which police officer to dispatch to that situation, as well as which fire department or ambulance service to dispatch, McMullen said.

“It is used for records and assisting dispatchers. The problem is it is simply an older software and it is time to update it. It seems we have been having more and more problems as the CAD will freeze and stop working,” McMullen said.

That requires the county to turn off and then reboot its servers, he said.

“We have not lost any 911 calls,” McMullen said. The CAD system is not part of a radio system or telephone calls seeking emergency aid. McMullen said the system can be paid from 911 fees.

In his request, McMullen sought software, training, interfaces and annual software maintenance, at $34,000 a year, for three years. Vigo County Auditor Tim Seprodi told the council committee that McMullen could not seek a lump sum, but instead would have to request that software maintenance funding each year in the department’s annual budget.

Fox said the need for new software came to light in 2012 when its current provider, CISCO Public Safety, was bought out by Global Software Corp., a division of Harris. The sheriff’s department was not able to put a request for funds in its 2014 budget as it was not known until November 2013, that Global would only maintain that software, not enhance it.

“In the software world, that is kind of the kiss of death,” Fox told the committee. “When you don’t enhance a software to work in the new technology era, you are basically putting it out to pasture,” he said.

The CISCO system was installed in 2004 and is used for records management. It also provides data to deputies using laptops in their patrol cars. It is has been expanded to include use by the county prosecutor’s office, public defender’s office and county commissioners to check daily jail inmate counts, Fox said.

Fox told the committee that Global is developing a new system, but it did not offer capabilities of the county’s current system and there is no timeline when the system will be operational. Instead, Fox recommend INTERACT Public Safety.

The INTERACT software would be maintained off site in redundant servers through the state system, which keeps Vigo County from bearing the cost to provide servers and large scale data storage, Fox said. Data would be hosted at the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications Center and Integrated Public Safety Commissioner Center.

Fox said $149,000 is being sought from the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax, an additional $20,000 would come from the county’s Information Technology Department and $40,000 would come from the sheriff’s department’s 2014 budget.

The system could also allow the sheriff’s department to branch out into new technology, such as the use of mobile tablets in the county jail. And it would allow Vigo County to interface with other fire and emergency management agency providers on the state system, Fox said.

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