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New Providence, Summit Shared Dispatch in High Gear

Mike Neavill

Monday, June 10, 2013 • 3:59pm

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Construction on a shared emergency dispatch center could begin as early as September with completion by year-end or early 2014, an official said.

Borough Administrator Doug Marvin said architects have developed a final concept plan for the dispatch operation that will be located in the New Providence Municipal Center.

“Our goal is to have the architectural work go out to bid in July and, hopefully, start construction in September,” Marvin said.

Concurrent with that effort has been meetings with Motorola Radio to plan the scope of the work necessary to bring emergency communications under one roof.

“We’ve got a lot of pieces that will come together over the summer,” the administrator said.

With those efforts underway, simultaneous tracks will deal with the 911 phone system, the administrative phone system, and computerized dispatch (CAD), records management systems (RMS) and mobile solutions for the computers.

Marvin explained that when an emergency call is received the call is captured in the CAD and transferred to records management so that a record of all calls and additional information are captured in the system. Tied into that effort is the mobile solution where CAD instantaneously sends information to an emergency vehicle.

Marvin said it was considerably complicated, with a number of different components needed to synchronize a seamless information flow from the time the information is received by the dispatcher and transmitted to the officer in the car.

Last November, the governing bodies of Summit and New Providence approved ordinances leading to a joint operation to provide emergency dispatch services.

The shared Dispatch Center will handle all 911 emergency dispatch services for police, fire and EMS in both communities. In addition, on a fee basis the center will also process emergency calls for the Millburn Fire Department.

In addition to possible operational savings, one of the divining forces behind the merger is a $1.6 million federal grant to replace aging equipment with state-of-the-art technology.

The grant cannot be used for construction so each community will share equally in an expected $700,000 expense for the new center.

Marvin said that often times shared services carries the implied suggestion of saving money but after initial implementation the services will not result in immediate savings.

“It’s going to cost New Providence pretty much the same to provide as before,” Marvin said.

However, Marvin emphasized that the biggest benefit to residents in both communities is the duplication and reduction in personnel and systems which mitigates a single dispatch center from being overwhelmed by emergency calls.

In a multi-person environment, the new shared dispatch system will have a built-in back-up system.

“We believe that while there is not a tremendous cost savings, the service level to ours citizens will be much greater,” Marvin said.

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