Mahoning County commissioners today will show off what they are calling a reliable, state-of-the-art, countywide emergency 911 telephone communications system that lays the foundation for possible future consolidation of the eight dispatching centers in the county.
“This equipment is easily moved from one location to the next,” and dispatchers easily could move from one answering point to another in an emergency, using identical equipment, said Maggi McGee, county 911 director.
The county has dispatching centers in the county administration building, Youngstown City Hall, and the Boardman, Austintown, Canfield, Beaver, Struthers and Sebring police departments.
The new system, funded by fees attached to all cellular phones and real-estate taxes, features a single computer server in a secure, undisclosed location outside the county, which is managed by AT&T, and a backup server, also in an undisclosed location outside the county.
The dedication ceremony will be at 10 a.m. in the commissioners’ county courthouse basement meeting room, followed by tours of the 911 dispatching center on the sixth floor of city hall.
The new system cost slightly more than $2 million, including installation, training and testing. Under a five-year contract, the county will pay AT&T about $8,000 a month for its services, including housing and maintaining the server and the fiber-optic cabling, McGee said.
“We have so much redundancy built in that, even with a fiber [optic cable] cut, the system will still be up and running,” she said.
“We are in an age where there is a need to provide tight security for our information systems,” said Austintown Police Chief Robert Gavalier. “I am pleased that this new system is in a very secure site outside of Mahoning County.”
Boardman Fire Chief George Brown said, “It is rewarding to see the entire county being able to receive 911 calls using the latest technology. This will be invaluable in saving the lives of those we serve.”
The centralized server reduced the county’s hardware purchase needs, and newly purchased software allows the call-taking equipment to receive digital communications.
The new digital equipment, installed a month ago and required by state law, replaces analog equipment that has been in place since 911 was inaugurated in the county 20 years ago.
The system has a platform for the next generation of technology, which will allow the future ability to receive digital photography, video and text messages, the county said in a fact sheet about the new system.