MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County 9-1-1 Board took the first step Wednesday toward improving the accuracy of the mapping system available to first responders in Knox County. The board approved a motion to enter into an agreement with Ohio Geographically Referenced Information Program, which will allow Knox County to join 66 other Ohio counties as part of the Location Based Response System.
The LBRS will provide a statewide addressing system which Jeff Smith, the OGRIP representative who spoke to the board Wednesday afternoon, said will be much more accurate than the systems currently used by first responders.
According to Scott Snider, Knox County Geographic Information Systems supervisor, who also addressed board members, the current address system used in Knox County is only approximately 80 percent accurate.
“The current GIS system is at least 20 percent inaccurate,” Snider told the board. “I think LBRS is a necessity.”
“From a public safety or first responder standpoint, the more accurate the system is, the better,” said board member Shawn Christy, chief of the Mount Vernon Fire Department.
He added that the state’s current offer to pay 80 percent of the cost of joining the new statewide system made climbing on board with the new project much more appealing.
David Blackstone, technical services manager for the Ohio Department of Transportation, told the board ODOT had funds available to pay the 80 percent if the county was able to pay 20 percent. He said the cost of gathering the data in Knox County could be as low as $50,000 or as high as $210,000, depending on the method and contractor used.
In other business, the board approved the bid for $28,961 submitted by ECR Computers and Internet Services to provide computer hardware for the 9-1-1 dispatch centers. Brian Hess, Knox County Emergency Management Agency director, said this includes adding four new work stations, which would allow 9-1-1 dispatchers to be trained in house instead of traveling out of the county for training on the new CAD system being installed in both dispatch centers.
ECR’s bid was substantially lower than the only other bid which met all specifications, according to Hess. Christy said ECR's work has been reliable on other projects. Mount Vernon Police Chief Mike Merrilees, who supervises the city dispatch center said he has been pleased with the work of ECR as well.
“We do get good service response from them at the city,” Merrilees said.
Deputy EMA Director Matt Sturgeon said the Long-term Communication Committee, recently formed to help guide the direction of further communication development, has been making progress.
Christy told the board the transition to the new CAD systems is moving along, with training and data entry for the new system under way.