Mahoning’s new 911 technology came without a tax hike

By Peter H. Milliken


The technology of Mahoning County’s 911 emergency-dispatching system has been upgraded without a tax increase, and the public won’t notice any change in service, speakers said at the dedication of the telephone communications improvement.

“We’re taking a system that went in March 24, 1994, and brought it to the 21st century,” Maggi McGee, county 911 director, said at a ceremony Friday to announce the upgrade. “We did not have to raise any taxes for anybody in Mahoning County.”

The $2 million upgrade, which converted the 911 system from analog to state-of-the-art digital, is funded by fees attached to all cellphones and by real-estate taxes. It features a single computer server in a secure location outside Mahoning County, which is managed by AT&T, and a backup server, also outside the county.

When someone calls 911 from Youngstown to report a fire, the call goes to the central server, which sends it to the city’s 911 dispatching center, which sends the fire department, and an ambulance and cruiser, if needed.

The system, installed a month ago, has a platform for the next generation of technology, which will allow the future ability to receive digital photo-graphy, video and text messages.

The public won’t notice any change in emergency dispatching, said James Dorman, retired Boardman fire chief and a member of the county’s 911 executive board. “We have simply replaced obsolete equipment and software with the best modern equipment available today,” he said.

“The equipment was so outdated that replacement parts were all but impossible to obtain,” he said. “We were in danger of 911 communication failures if we did not improve and upgrade our emergency phone system.”

“Not only did we replace the entire county’s 911 system, we built a brand-new database, and we put in new voice recorders,” McGee added.

“It shows that there’s collaboration with the cities, the villages and the townships so that we could all work together and make this a better system,” said Carol Rimedio-Righetti, chairwoman of the county commissioners.

County officials conducted a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the new system and showcased the 911 dispatching center at Youngstown City Hall.

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