Md. Commissioner concerned over cost of 911 system

Commissioners were asked to approve $92,500 for Next-Gen call routing software and $1.3 million for an upgrade/refresh to the VESTA system


By Greg Larry
Cumberland Times News, Md.

ALLEGANY COUNTY, Md. — Allegany County Commission President Jake Shade is expressing concerns over the cost of equipment and upgrades from a radio communications vendor for the county’s 911 Center.

During a county meeting last week, Shade abstained from voting on bills totaling $1.4 million from Motorola for the 911 call handling system. The funding was ultimately approved, with Creade Brodie Jr. and Dave Caporale voting for it.

The county uses the Next-Gen system, which is part of the VESTA system of call handling software from Motorola Solutions. (Photo/Motorola)
The county uses the Next-Gen system, which is part of the VESTA system of call handling software from Motorola Solutions. (Photo/Motorola)

The county uses the Next-Gen system, which is part of the VESTA system of call handling software from Motorola Solutions.

Commissioners were asked to approve $92,500 for Next-Gen call routing software and $1.3 million for an upgrade/refresh to the VESTA system.

The added $1.4 million will bring the total spent on the new 911 system to nearly $10 million since the project began.

“I’m not going to stand in the way of this, but we just spent about $7.8 million in radios with Motorola,” Shade said. “We sat here last March and it was another $450,000 that we got surprised with, that we had to pay to connect those radios. With that, I’m not going to be involved in this vote tonight.”

James Pyles, director of emergency services for the county, presented the details on the costs and asked that the upgrades be approved. He said the state approved the Next-Gen system with Gov. Larry Hogan signing the measure in April.

“What we’re talking about is enhancing our system,” Pyles said, adding that dispatchers recently handled 1,395 911 calls in one week. “You can now video 911 and text video and share video through 911.

“It increases our cybersecurity by moving to the NG911 mandate. It enhances our first responders’ (ability to locate) individuals who have dialed 911 on their cellphone,” Pyles said. “It enhances how quickly our first responders can find these individuals with over 70% of all 911 calls being made from a cellphone.”

Pyles gave his support for the Motorola system.

“It conforms as far as fees and regulations to fund the current 911 system and transition into NG911,” he said. “We are currently using Verizon. It is an old system and they are getting out of the NG911 business. We have two options, AT&T and Motorola.

“AT&T increases cost and time. Motorola, it is instant connectivity and compatibility and it is one tech handling our problems. It is cheaper and lower cost by going to Motorola,” Pyles said.

Shade said pricing from AT&T should be explored.

“Did we figure out the cost, or did AT&T put in a proposal to do the same thing, or was it just Motorola?” Shade asked.

“It was just Motorola,” Pyles said. “In Allegany County, we are currently invested heavily in Motorola. We have the VESTA 6.0 program. In my opinion, Motorola would be a smooth transition since we are already invested heavily in the Motorola 6.0 VESTA.”

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©2019 the Cumberland Times News (Cumberland, Md.)

 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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