Facing a major need to upgrade the 911 Dispatch Center, the Lakeview Town Council at its Tuesday, March 30 meeting gave Lakeview Town Mgr. Michele Parry the go-ahead to apply for a $400,000 loan through Business Oregon to make upgrades, after taking a tour of the facility.
911 Dispatch Center Dir. Scott Utley told the Council in January that the microwave transmission system — which communicates with the tower on the top of Black Cap peak above Lakeview — had failed. While Utley and workers at the dispatch center were able to get the system back up and running, he told the Council an upgrade to the existing system is needed as it is outdated and much of the equipment is no longer supported.
“The system has not been upgraded since 2004 and it is a time for an upgrade,” Utley told the Council on Tuesday, Jan. 12.
Wanting to take a closer look the Town Council decided to hold a special work session at the Dispatch Center so the Council members could get a firsthand look at what is needed and the age of the technology.
On Tuesday, March 16, the Town Council took a tour of the dispatch center facility. Much of the technology is extremely outdated; Utley said many of the operating systems still run on Windows 95.
Part of Utley’s proposal is to replace the chairs, carpet, and computers the 911 operators use during their shifts. He said the current computers are not only as old as the back end of the system, but the monitors are small, making it difficult for the operators to use them efficiently.
In the server room Utley said much of the back ups for the programming on the servers is still on floppy disks; modern equipment lacks floppy disk drives, making them useless. He said the current servers do not even have USB ports, and often still use old school cables to connect to each other. When Utley was working on getting the microwave system up and running again he only had floppy disks to work with.
Utley told the Council at the February meeting after the system was installed in 2004 he encouraged the then-Council to build up a reserve because the equipment would need to be replaced at some point. He said the equipment should have been replaced several years ago but the cost was not factored into the budget. Since the upgrades were not made when it was less expensive, he said the Dispatch Center is now at a “crisis point” and “scrambling to find funding.” Parry did apply for a grant through the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), but it was not approved.
The Council decided to apply for a loan through Business Oregon. Utley encouraged the current Council, and Parry, to build a reserve in the budget so the equipment could be replaced when needed instead of getting a sticker shock all at once.
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