Last updated: August 24. 2013 1:05PM - 231 Views

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LIMA — The Allen County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is updating its 911 system, working to add “next generation technology,” such as the ability to process text messages, photos and videos.

The Allen County Commissioners approved of the $363,000 expense Thursday during their weekly meeting. EMA Director Russ Decker said the update is long overdue.

“We just can’t get repairs with the current system because it’s so old,” he said. “We’ve barely been getting by.”

In the event of a system crash, Decker said, “We would have a hard time getting parts and software to fix it.”

The upgrades are designed to increase system stability and mostly will be behind the scenes. Decker said the software won't affect dispatch response time, which mostly is affected by human staffing levels.

“Dispatchers wouldn’t even notice the difference,” Decker said.

The new 911 system will start with software that’s easily compatible. That can’t be said about the old system, which has been in place since 2003.

Decker said later, as technology progresses, he hopes to have more advanced programming like texts, photos and videos sent to the system. The eventual add-ons would be at an additional cost.

Decker did not know when such features could be added. He said he hopes the new system will last another five to 10 years.

During an Oct. 21 tour of the Allen Count Sheriff’s Office, Decker said the 911 system handles more than 50,000 calls per year. He said the average 911 call in Allen County is answered in less than 10 seconds.

“It’s pretty incredible considering the volume of calls we handle in our county,” Decker said.

Allen County dispatch center
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