GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Kent County officials say the problems with its 911 dispatch computer system have improved since it was implemented in December 2012.
Monday, the Kent County Dispatch Authority held its first meeting since a Target 8 investigation found more than 100 pages of complaints about the Motorola PremierOne CAD dispatch system. Among the problems, there were reports of computers freezing up, some crews being dispatched to nowhere, and other crews never being notified of an emergency. Other counties have ditched PremierOne because of similar glitches.
County officials say the number of problems is decreasing. But the system is far from error-free.
Dispatchers dealing with an assault call on Jan. 30 were noticeably concerned when PremierOne wasn't working properly. Emergency responders had been sent to the scene, but that was unclear to all the parties involved.
"That's a major, major problem," they said.
And it wasn't the first time they had experienced other problems with the system.
"I've filled out more problem forms than anyone else here. This is the first one I filled out with the severity level as high," one dispatcher said.
That was just a month after the system was put in place. Five months later, Kent County says, there are only a few types of serious problems that are being addressed.
Kent County Chief Deputy Michelle Young reported to the Kent County Dispatch Authority Monday on the progress of those repairs.
"It really gets down to about 10 critical errors that Motorola is working to deliver a fix to right away," Young said.
She said the critical errors are not putting any lives at risk. Instead, she said, they are software issues.
"We think it's actually going pretty well. It's fully deployed. We are using it 100% for our public safety calls," she said.
Young says Motorola is constantly working on all the problems along with a team of people that have been since the beginning.
"We have Motorola engineering, Motorola testing people, Kent County Sheriff's Department testing people. We have Grand Rapids city testing people. We have supervisors that try to note anything and obviously our line staff," she said. "It really is just a system that is that complicated to be able to set up, so we're relatively speaking suffering very few problems that we would consider to be significant."
Young said that on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the worst, she would have rated the problems in January a six. Now, she would rate them a four.
Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt, chair of the Kent County Dispatch Authority, provided answers via email Tuesday to a list of questions Target 8 asked Monday:
1. Since our interview have there been any changes to help better detect errors in the system or fix them? If not, why not?
Existing defects are known and documented, however there is a user feedback system in place in case any other issues arise. Recently, we have added server space that will continue to accommodate a mirror of the production – or "live" – server that now has six months of collected data for testing. Incremental updates will now be rolled out in this mirror system. In addition, Motorola is working with dispatch personnel from each location to test the software and proactively identify ways to make it work more efficiently for the dispatchers.
2. Michelle Young talked about 10 critical errors that Motorola is working to fix; what are those 10?
"Critical" in the case of software updates means high priority, and does not refer to fatal software errors. Michelle was referencing 11
technical fixes that are in the testing stage. These address three main areas including individual issues with certain identified workstations, user settings, and transfer of data to mobile hardware.
3. Why are you implementing Phase II if there are problems with Phase I?
We will not start Phase II until Phase I is complete and we are satisfied that our expectations have been met.
4. I know Phase II involves CAD to CAD interface, but what else will be installed in Phase II?
Phase II includes an interface that deals with move up of fire units and a Zetron interface. Phase II previously included a ProQA interface, however that will not be required now due to the change in EMD policy that took place at today's KCDA policy board meeting.
5. Can you define CAD to CAD interface?
This term is used to describe an integration of software packages. In other words, the interface allows two different Computer Aided Dispatch systems to communicate with one another. An integrated dispatch system will allow any integrated dispatch center to access, interpret, use and share data.
6. Anything else that you want the public to know?
The number of issues we have is very, very small in comparison to the literally hundreds of thousands of functions this CAD system performs every minute.
Software bugs are frustrating for dispatchers to deal with; however, Motorola remains dedicated to working with our dispatchers to find resolutions for any and all of
the dispatcher's complaints. Overall, the system is working well and we are confident in its ability to help us provide continued efficiency in our delivery of public safety services.
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