MICHIGAN - Genesee Cty. 911 Making Progress in Fixing Computer and Communication Problems

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Title: 911 officials say progress being made on problems


Thursday, March 23, 2000


Genesee County 911 Consortium officials told the county Board of Commissioners on Wednesday that they are making progress in fixing communication problems that have been the source of complaints in several police and fire departments. One official said the problems have been overstated by those who are disgruntled.

"We deal with 25 police agencies, 23 fire chiefs, 21 police chiefs, hundreds of officers and 20,000 dispatches (each month)" said Donald L. Parks, Davison Township supervisor and chairman of the 911 consortium. "I would ask that you put (complaints) in perspective."

Parks and Lloyd Fayling, head of the 911 center, spoke at a county committee meeting Wednesday after Commissioner John J. Gleason, D-Flushing, asked for a report on the state of the 911 center.

Several fire and police departments have complained of computer and radio problems at the center, including the purchase of overpriced and obsolete equipment.

Fayling said problems are being addressed. In the last few weeks, he said, software upgrades started in in-car computers for police officers.

"The feedback we're getting from officers on the street and the police chiefs is it's running much faster," Fayling said. "It's working just fine. It looks like it's going to be a success."

Fayling acknowledged that 911 officials were hit with problems because of a software program that was not Y2K compliant and the December installation of a quick-fix program.

Several fire chiefs have contended, however, that problems began before the Y2K problems - when the county bought $5.9-million of computer and dispatching equipment when it set up the central dispatch center in 1996.

Flint Township Supervisor Sally Shaheen Joseph said Wednesday that there still are many questions that 911 administrators need to answer.

"There's a lot of discontent and a lot of questions," she said.

Parks agreed with officials who have said communication is the root of the problems.

"It's all a matter of communication," Parks said. "When we have a problem, it's 90 percent communication."

Still to be decided is how to replace an inventory of old VHF radios carried by police and firefighters. A $12.4-million proposal to replace the old radios, with about $4.5 million of that being paid for by local municipalities, has sparked objections.

The consortium is a coalition of 31 municipalities funded through a surcharge on county phone bills.

Ron Fonger covers Genesee County government and transportation issues. He can be reached at (810) 766-6317.


-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), March 23, 2000

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