Bertie approves E-911 upgrade

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 8, 2005

WINDSOR – One small step for man; one giant leap for Bertie County.

On Monday, Bertie’s Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to take the county to new heights in regards to a major upgrade in its emergency response services.

At their Jan. 24 meeting, the Commissioners were urged to find ways to advance their E-911 system into the next generation of technology – the now popular wireless world of communication. Bertie installed one of the state’s first E-911 systems, but have not upgraded since that &uot;land line&uot; technology has been surpassed by the wireless age.

Richard Taylor, a member of the North Carolina Wireless 911 Board of Directors, addressed Bertie’s elected leaders during that meeting. He suggested that the Commissioners immediately put the funds set aside for E-911 upgrades to work for the county citizens.

In response, Bertie’s elected leaders voted Monday to spend nearly $140,000 to purchase a complete CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) package as well as a Records Management System (RMS). The contract for those systems was awarded to Southern Software of Southern Pines.

&uot;It’s hard to imagine just how far we were behind from a technology standpoint,&uot; said Bertie Sheriff Greg Atkins. &uot;These new systems will carry us into a whole new realm of technology. What we are getting for this money is a state-of-the-art system.&uot;

William Roberson, Bertie’s Director of Information Technology, joined with Atkins and Bertie EMS Director Ricky Freeman to pitch the proposal to the Commissioners. Southern Software’s winning bid included all software, hardware, installation/training and technical support for both the CAD and RMS systems.

To pay for this much-needed upgrade, the county will use $100,878 of its E-911 and Wireless funds along with $14,000 of money already earmarked for this project in Bertie’s current 2004-05 budget. The remaining $22,993 will come out of the county’s general fund balance.

Currently, Bertie has a landline E-911 system where a dispatcher in the Sheriff’s Office can identify callers by name and address if the call is placed from a normal residential or business phone. However, for Bertie to reach the next level of technology, they must offer wireless E-911 from where a caller can summon emergency response teams from a cell phone.

Additionally, Bertie will implement a Geographical Information System, hopefully by early April. That technology, coupled with the RMS, will assist the tax department, but they are also vital to running a successful E-911 system.

No decision was reached during Monday’s meeting on where to house this new emergency response gadgetry. The Commissioners are still pondering on whether or not to leave the system as it is currently (in the Sheriff’s Office) or within an independently operated emergency dispatch center.

At last month’s meeting, Taylor recommended the latter option.