Broward County released Phase 1 of a two-phase consultant’s report on Regional 911 today. The report highlights opportunities for system improvement, but also notes that “contrary to often cited perceptions, the system is performing – quantitatively – better than conveyed by stakeholders.” The consultant, Fitch and Associates, was hired at the request of County Administrator Bertha Henry to assess stakeholder perceptions about the performance of the new Regional Consolidated Communications System (E-911), and benchmark current operations and performance metrics against national best practices. Fitch and Associates is a national firm specializing in consulting for local government services including emergency medical services, fire, communications and technology.
“The goal of Regional 911 is to provide a public safety system that has the infrastructure and resources necessary to provide the most rapid and closest unit response to public calls for assistance,” said Henry. She added, “The system must be open and transparent, and include reporting and feedback mechanisms that ensure adherence to performance standards and encourage continuous improvement.”
Henry said overall, the report identifies few issues or concerns that the County was not aware of prior to the study, and that many of the issues identified in the report have already been proactively addressed through new policies and procedures, training and a $113 million investment in operations and system improvements. The upcoming Phase 2 report will include the consultant’s recommendations for improvements.
Fitch derived their findings from four sources: interviews with stakeholders including elected, appointed and senior management officials, directors, managers and supervisory personnel; observation of operations in the three Public Service Answering Points and in the field; surveys of dispatch personnel; and analysis of data from legacy systems.
Performance reporting for E911 has been limited in the past by outdated legacy systems. The County will roll out a new $4.2 million Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system in the first quarter of 2017, to further address concerns in the report that stem from the legacy systems. The new multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency web-based CAD will replace a 22-year-old system the County inherited in 2012 and interface to the E-911 System, Radio System, Regional Law and Fire Records Systems, and Paging and Toning Systems – all systems vital
to receiving, processing and implementing rapid response to 911 calls for help.
Broward County has also: Started the procurement process to replace the 30-year-old inherited radio system, with a new state-of-the-art radio system.
Adopted stakeholder approved “highest and best standards” for call answering and processing, and implemented open and transparent performance reporting. Call answering standards (known as “P1″) continue to meet expectations and initiatives are underway to continue improvements in the call processing standard (P2 and P3).
Implemented a system-wide Incident Management Tracking System and Quality Improvement Program.
Launched a new system so residents, businesses and visitors who use 911 can provide feedback on their call experience, through an online feedback form, or by calling the Broward County Call Center at 311. Feedback will be used to enhance the 911 experience for future users. The consolidated regional system became operational in October 2014, part of a long-range plan to achieve E-911 closest unit response as mandated by the voters in 2002. Regionalization consolidated several independently run 911 systems in Broward into a single, more effective and efficient countywide system.