Marion County commits to $5.5 million dispatch system to improve fire and police response, replace problematic system

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — About 1.4 million times a year 911 operators in Marion County receive a call for help and dispatch a police officer, a fire truck or an EMS crew utilizing its computer aided dispatch system.

Marion County’s CAD is antiquated, dating back literally to the turn of the century, and in need of not only a technological overhaul but a total junking and reboot.

The Board of Public Health and Safety approved this morning a $5.5 million contract with Motorola to spend the next 18 months building a new CAD system after a multi-million dollar start-and-stop failure negotiated in 2012 by the administration of then-Mayor Greg Ballard.

Discredited former Public Safety Director Frank Straub was forced out in August of that year and the next month, in the absence of his permanent replacement, Marion County signed a $12 million deal for an untried, undefined allegedly state-of-the-art system with a company called Interact.

Interact had never built such a complex system to deal with the needs of a metropolitan area the size of Indianapolis.

From the start the Interact project was fraught with problems, technological shortcomings and missed deadlines.

In late 2014 Straub’s successor, Troy Riggs, threatened to stop payment to Interact, sending the company into a financial tailspin as it was headed toward bankruptcy that led to its purchase by Harris Communications.

Harris also faltered in delivering on Interact’s pie-in-the-sky undeliverable promises and a year ago the county ended its contract and sued.

Absolutely none of the Interact expenditures, technology or software is salvageable, wasting five years and $12 million of Marion County’s time and money.

Under the new Motorola system, which has been built and operated in cities such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Nashville, operators will be able to track fire, police and EMS vehicles, assigning the closest first responder to the call with Automatic Vehicle Locator technology.

The system also has a Stored Alert feature so that responders can pull up the history of the address they’ve been dispatched and determine if there is a potential of violence or special health or child needs.

The system will not include a records management system for IMPD and IFD that will be developed in 2017.

The life of the current CAD system expires at the end of the year, though the provider, Tritech, has agreed to continue service until the new system is operational.

The current system does not need meet FBI requirements for confidential information sharing.

The new system should have a shelf life of eight to ten years before massive upgrades would be needed.