Press Releases

Holly police first in state to use new 911 system

Published: Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Of The Oakland Press

New technology will be a benefit to Groveland Township residents, according to police officials, as they start relying on the village’s dispatch center.

The Village of Holly Police and Fire Dispatch Center began taking the township’s emergency calls, as of July 1.

The township relies on the Michigan State Police as its primary law enforcement agency.

The center has, in the last two years, upgraded services with money provided by property taxes, which were raised by 2 mills in 2006, following approval by village voters.

More than $500,000 was spent on rebuilding the center and is the first in the county and the state to operate the VESTA Pallas system.

Other agencies in Oakland County also are slated to use the same technology, which Holly dispatchers started using in June.

Holly Police Chief Rollie Gackstetter said the system is more compatible with today’s cell phone and wireless technology.

He said problems began with 911 systems as people moved to using cell phones and using Internet connections for their home telephone service, known as voice over Internet protocol.

This resulted in a loss of information being transmitted to dispatchers, such as location information.

“To have a solution with a clear migration capability from conventional communications to voice over Internet protocol, will ensure that our center will have the most comprehensive, reliable and cost-effective solution available,” Gackstetter said.



New 911 system comes online in Hills

Published: March 10, 2010

C&G Staff Writer – Farmington Press

The Police Department’s new 911 system, which went into operation last week, offers dispatchers some new features while allaying repair worries.

The new system, known as the Vesta Pallas, replaces a 10-year old system requiring increasingly hard-to-find replacement parts. The new system cost about $260,000 but with grant money and 911 county surcharge money, the city’s contribution was about $90,000.

“Most of that included software and hardware upgrades,” said Sgt. Ron Shankin of the department’s Communications Section.

One day after the system went into service, the transition seemed reasonably trouble-free.

“We’re the fifth or sixth agency that has started using this particular type of equipment, so the technicians we’re working with, they’ve done it a few times,” said Shankin.

“It’s probably going to take another couple of weeks for our dispatchers to feel as comfortable as they are with the system they switched over from,” said Shankin.

“Fortunately, we have technicians that are on-site that are working with our staff.  And we have trainers that are making the transitions pretty smooth,” said Shankin. 

The new system allows dispatchers to use a prerecorded greeting when receiving a call.

“If there’s something going on like a family trouble or something, we can pick up information while that line is open and while our greeting is being played out,” said Leslie Amato, communications supervisor.  “So we can pick up information that we may have missed because we were talking.”

Shankin said that the recording is so fast, “911, what is your location,” that people wouldn’t know it’s a recording.

The old system offered dispatchers the ability to program important numbers – poison centers, local hospitals – into a speed dial, and the new system takes that a step further. 

“As many numbers as we put in there, the system is pretty much going to take,” said Shankin.

“Hopefully, it makes the response quicker for the dispatchers to transfer calls,” said Amato.

Landlines provide dispatchers with the most information automatically – a name and address – but the new system should help with cell phone and voice-over-Internet-protocol calls.

Sometimes when a cell phone call comes in, the information about that caller might not display immediately, so dispatchers would have to rebid the information onscreen.

“When you re-bid, you basically are refreshing it – kind of refreshing the screen, so it updates the information for you, because it doesn’t always populate immediately. You may have to refresh it,” said Shankin. “What this system does is it automatically does that for us. So if the dispatcher doesn’t see it right away, they don’t have to push anything. Within every five seconds, it refreshes.  Eventually, the information will come up for you.”

Gathering information from VOIP calls proved unpredictable with the old equipment.

“Sometimes they weren’t showing up. It’s gotten better. This equipment is supposed to help us accept that,” said Shankin.

The new system offers features to help speed communication with callers who have hearing or speed difficulty and use text telephones. When such a call comes in, a window opens onscreen; dispatchers do not need to listen to a sound identifying a text call.

“That’s really nice. We like the feature especially that it pops right up as you get a call,” said dispatcher Margaret Koehn.

Dispatchers can simply click on a pre-typed question  – “Do you need the police?” – displayed on a menu to send the question to the caller.

“It’s got several different categories,” said Amato.

The dispatcher can still type questions, too.

Farmington Hills had approximately 80,000 non-emergency calls last year, and approximately 39,500 emergency calls. The Communications Section also handles dispatch services for the Franklin Police Department.

The new system includes capabilities for upgraded features not yet available in Farmington Hills, such as the ability to send and receive streaming video.

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