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Weld looks to replace dysfunctional dispatch software [Greeley Tribune, Colo. :: ]
[June 28, 2014]

Weld looks to replace dysfunctional dispatch software [Greeley Tribune, Colo. :: ]

(Greeley Tribune (CO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 28--Weld County officials are again on the hunt for a dispatch software system that better serves their residents just a few years after purchasing the last one.

Spillman, the current system used by dispatchers and employees with the jail, EMS, and others, is slow and incompatible with the way that emergency responders in Weld actually operate, said Mike Wallace, Weld County's director of Public Safety Communications.

Wallace in December launched several audits of the system that confirmed what Wallace said he suspected -- Spillman can't perform at the level needed by those who use the Weld County Regional Communications Center.

Commissioners and Greeley City Council members at a recent meeting agreed Spillman has not lived up to their expectations.

The software was purchased about three years ago, when Greeley and Weld County jointly operated the dispatch center.

"I was really hoping that Spillman could actually do everything that they said it would do," said Weld County Commission Chairman Douglas Rademacher at the meeting.

Greeley officials, who are now users of the dispatch center, gave their blessing to move forward with different software.

In a few weeks, representatives of different departments, including fire, police and records, will attend demos from five vendors seeking to supply the county with its next software program, Wallace said.

He said the county is exploring a partnership with Adams County, which also is searching for a new dispatch system.

Partnering with Adams would lower the cost of the software and provide geographic redundancy, Wallace said.

In other words, "if one (dispatch center) fails, you're not dead in the water," he said.

But Wallace said he does not want to compromise any of Weld County's operational procedures, and the Adams partnership hinges on whether all of Weld's needs will still be met.

Depending on whether Weld joins with Adams County and what kind of features the new software incorporates, he said the county could be looking at a purchase price of between $1 million and $3 million.

Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner said most of the systems that deal with public safety tend to favor some departments over others, which is why finding an effective system is so complicated.

Wallace said one of Spillman's primary weaknesses is that it is "off the shelf" -- it doesn't have components that match the way emergency responders work in Weld, and it can't be customized to meet the needs of different departments and different procedures, he said.

For a hypothetical example, Wallace said, imagine a fire department that mandates two engines, an ambulance and a police car respond to every structure fire. With this software, that kind of response couldn't be requested or logged, he said.

If necessary, Wallace said, the county could end up using different but compatible vendors for a few departments that deal with dispatch.

With Spillman, the Records Department had to hire additional people to handle the same amount of work because of new obstacles it posed, he said.

"That is unacceptable," Wallace said at the meeting.

Garner said those issues are coupled with Spillman's sluggish processing times.

"The primary complaint that I hear is, it needs to work faster," he said. "I just think we have grown to the point where we need something that will keep up." ___ (c)2014 the Greeley Tribune (Greeley, Colo.) Visit the Greeley Tribune (Greeley, Colo.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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