MOUNT VERNON — Members of the selection committee who recommended purchase of the new Computer Aided Dispatch System to the Knox County 9-1-1 Board last month say they feel the exhaustive process used in selecting the new system will provide the best emergency dispatch technology to the citizens of Knox County.
The board unanimously approved the purchase of the new system, which will cost the county around $387,000 initially, with another $100,000 in possible expenses to complete the system.
Mount Vernon Police Capt. George Hartz said he and fellow committee members — Mount Vernon Fire Chief Shawn Christy, Fredericktown EMS Chief Rick Lanuzza, Knox County Sheriff Deputy Bill Watson and Knox County EMS Board member John Hammond — spent many hours on the selection process between the four vendors who submitted competitive sealed proposals.
The contract was awarded to Columbus-based EmergiTech. Hartz and Christy cited EmergiTech’s lengthy, solid business history as one of EmergiTech’s attributes.
Hartz said the county and city dispatch centers will use the new CAD system for several years, and committee members felt comfortable choosing a company which has provided the dispatch system and support at the MVPD dispatch center for over 10 years.
Hartz said that during that time the company has been responsive to requests for technology support, and has quickly resolved any questions.
According to Hartz, because EmergiTech was the only one of the four vendors to include a performance bond with their proposal, the company’s financial stability was clear to committee members. A performance bond is commonly used to ensure the quality and timeliness of work in large municipal contracts. Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis, who serves on the 9-1-1 Board, said a performance bond was required of whichever vendor received the contract.
The three vendors who did not receive the contract did not provide the performance bonds. However, Hartz said all three did promise to purchase the bonds if awarded the contract.
CMI, Cysco and Alert Tracking Systems submitted proposals to the county well under the amount submitted by EmergiTech.
Because the features offered with each system, including hardware, software, training and support, differ with each vendor, Hartz and Christy said comparing the four proposals by dollar amounts is difficult.
Of more importance to the committee are the actual performance features of the different systems in real-life settings, and the capabilities each system has to adjust to the needs in Knox County.
Consultant Rod Schlingerman, who owns OnTracNow Computers and has over 35 years’ experience as an electronic and computer technical specialist, helped determine which CAD system would serve the county best.
Schlingerman, who lives in Apple Valley, was paid $1 for his work on the project.
“I’m a citizen of Knox County so that’s why I wanted to help these guys,” Schlingerman said.
Schlingerman and committee members graded several dozen points regarding the usability and features of each system. The grades were then measured against each other. Hartz and Schlingerman said the systems earned measurably different grades on the fire service side of the system.
Christy said the EmergiTech system offered features and capabilities the others did not. Arson investigations and special equipment and maintenance tracking features, which will be available to all county fire departments, will help departments use technology to better serve the community, according to Christy.
Hartz said EmergiTech had the features the county needs to use today, available today. He added the committee was uncomfortable choosing a vendor which planned to add additional capabilities at a later date.
Christy explained the new system will keep track of internal information for departments, as well as provide a link between law enforcement and fire departments across the county. Committee members stressed the critical nature of the inter-operability of each department’s information system during a large-scale incident.
Visiting other counties where the different CAD system is in operation was another part of the inspection process. Christy said talking to other chiefs who already use the different systems was helpful.
The system is scheduled to be fully implemented by Jan. 1, 2010, according to Hartz. Until then, the current dispatch centers at the MVPD and KCSO will continue to operate using separate software.