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$750K price tag City to upgrade 911 system

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Money to come from city’s general fund

By Jesef Williams

The city of Lancaster has made a significant move toward the upgrade of its E-911 system. 

Following a closed session during City Council’s meeting Tuesday, Aug. 13, council voted unanimously to enter into a contract with New World Systems. 

That company, which provides government and public-safety software, will supply the city with a new 911 CAD (computer-aided dispatch) system as well as a new records-management system. 

The new 911 infrastructure and software will cost the city $750,000 – money that will come from the city’s general fund. 

The dispatch center that serves the rest of Lancaster County (housed at the former sheriff’s office on Pageland Highway) already uses New World Systems. 

“The city is very pleased to share the same vendor with the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office,” said City Administrator Helen Sowell. “This will maximize compatibility and efficiency between the two agencies.” 

With the contract with the city, New World Systems will provide installation and project management of the new CAD and records-management system. The company will also convert file data and provide training services, software licenses and ongoing maintenance support. 

“From call entry to dispatch of a call to the final resolution of the issue, New World technology will allow emergency personnel to provide enhanced services to our citizens and will provide better performance tools for our emergency service providers,” Sowell said.  

She said the city’s 911 system, housed at the Municipal Justice Center on Arch Street, still features key components that have been in use since the early 1990s. 

Comporium Communications will handle the telephone and Internet components of the upgrade. 

911 changes in the county 

County officials and emergency personnel have been talking for years about merging the county’s two 911 dispatch centers – one that serves the city and one at the sheriff’s office that serves the rest of Lancaster County.

In November 2012, City Council voted to not consolidate the city’s 911 center with Lancaster County. 

Proponents said consolidation would result in cost savings, quicker response times and improved safety for emergency personnel and residents in need.

City officials, though, were pleased with the current set-up. They provided research that suggested cities in other counties have police departments that prefer to man their own dispatch centers.

Months before that, Lancaster County Council voted to allocate $1.3 million for 911 upgrades. About $950,000 of that was targeted for one-time capital purchases, said Chris Nunnery, the county’s director of public safety communications. 

The money came from the county’s general fund and tariff money (a monthly fee charged to phone customers).

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152