Tuesday, December 14, 2010

911 call center makes a move

Today, our 911 Call Center is moving from their spot at 1111 Locust (next door to Police Headquarters) to a temporary location while the unit is remodeled and the citywide radio system is upgraded. We hope to reopen the new and improved Call Center in April 2011. Here's the full story from our Informant newsletter:

When dispatchers send officers out on a call, they must rely on 911 callers to know what’s happening at the scene. But soon, dispatchers will be able to access live video from cameras city-wide and provide first-hand accounts to responding officers.

“If we know there’s an incident where a camera is located, we should be able to pull up the video before the officers arrive,” Communications Manager Steve Hoskins said.

This new video technology is part of a $50 million project to replace the City’s radio system and completely remodel the police department’s 911 call center at 1111 Locust St. With these improvements, the department will be able to communicate directly with other law enforcement agencies, as well as provide more accurate information to officers who are responding to calls.

The communications unit will relocate to the backup call center at 1328 Agnes on Dec. 14 and construction on the call center at 1111 Locust is schedule to begin the following week.

The remodel includes a new video wall, where they can pull up live footage from cameras throughout the city, including SCOUT cameras, Green Light cameras, video cameras in the Power and Light district, and several others. The Communications Unit will also have access to multiple media sources during critical incidents or severe weather.

The remodel of the Communications Unit also includes tearing down a wall that currently divides 911 call takers from the police dispatchers. The center’s tiered flooring will be ripped out to put all the workstations on a single level. This will allow for the addition of two workstations and more efficient use of the space.

The workstations also will be replaced with versions that can be raised and lowered, allowing staff members to sit or stand as they take or make calls.

When you spend 8 to 12 hours tethered to your station by your headset, you need a break to be able to stand up and move around a little,” Hoskins said.

One other major change will be the replacement of the 15-year old radio system. The new version will be online in the spring and will greatly enhance regional interoperability. It will be interconnected with the radio systems of all cities in Johnson County, Kan., and Independence, Mo. The cities of Riverside, Gladstone, and North Kansas City are going to transition to the Kansas City radio system, rather than maintain their own radio systems.

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