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Salt Lake County to Streamline 911 System


When a 9-1-1 dispatch center in Salt Lake County gets a call like this, the operator will use one of two existing software programs to locate emergency responders; and based on the location of the incident, call on the responder that’s closest to the scene.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says the problem with this scenario is when dispatchers are divided between two software systems, they’re not communicating. Depending on where the call was routed and the location of the incident, the caller may have to be transferred to another operator.

“So we have an inefficiency in the way that we answer and respond to 9-1-1 calls," McAdams says. "And as you can imagine time matters when an individual calls 9-1-1. An individual doesn’t want to call 9-1-1 and be transferred and have to repeat themselves.”

Because of this discrepancy the Salt Lake County Council has agreed to pay the upfront cost of moving dispatch centers onto a single system. The county will defer to 9-1-1 dispatch centers to decide which system to keep.

State Representative Brad Dee helped Weber County condense its 9-1-1 systems in a similar way. He says 9-1-1 technology has become highly advanced.

“We can pinpoint a hiker in the mountains by a cell phone call to within meters," Dee says. "Now it’s time for us on the ground in a dispatch center to get it all together to send the closest available unit regardless of what jurisdictional boundaries that might be.”

McAdams says he’d like to make the switch in the next couple of months. It’s estimated to save the county $200,000 a year. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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