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E-911 board moves forward with equipment purchases

LINDEN — Before the Marengo County E-911 board can get new technology for the communications center, they first have to have a specific and clear idea of their needs for the technology to send out to potential bidders. The majority of Tuesday’s meeting focused on what those needs are.

Steve Brooks of Synergem, the board’s consulting firm on several upcoming projects, presented the board with some options from other municipalities they have worked with recently including Walker and Shelby counties.

“When doing something like this, you have to look at not only up front costs but also your five year costs, which is the usual amount of technology investment,” Brooks said.

The majority of the equipment in the communications center now is approximately a decade old, according to Brooks and director Lisa Mangum. One of the first priorities established for the board is getting a digital system in place to replace the obsolete analog system they use now.

When considering a digital system, however, the board still has to decide what kind of digital technology to go for. Next generation technology, as it is commonly referred to, is a new communications technology that will accept both voice data and other forms of data like text messages and video.

Some counties have gone to an intermediate step, which is a digital technology that accepts voice information, but does not accept any other form of data. But as Brooks pointed out, the cost for the next-generation capable technology is more.

Steve Walters, the newest board member, said it will take some more time to make some decisions about what the system can feasibly ask for with their particular financial situation.

“We are caretakers of the E-911,” Walters said. “This is not our money its the county’s money and we want to make the best decisions we can.”

Brooks also updated the board on the progress of the new standard operating procedures manual, a document that will dictate protocol for everything from employee conduct to how to communicate with other agencies.

Some things the manual will need work on include protocol and procedures of the county’s different emergency agencies, purchasing policies and even pay scales. Brooks said a more complete draft of the document will be available at the board’s next meeting on Aug. 19.