New 9-1-1 System in Pennsylvania County Pays Off During Hurricane Sandy (1/14/13)
Monday, January 14, 2013 | Comments

After moving into a new public-safety complex in Lords Valley, Pa., just 18 days before Hurricane Sandy struck, Pike County 9-1-1 relied on the recently installed Solacom next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) system as the agency responded to a month’s worth of 9-1-1 calls in the two and a half days that the superstorm raged across the county.

“For being here for such a short amount of time and just getting used to the new equipment, we were really pressed into action,” said Bernie Swartwood, director of the public safety answering point (PSAP). “There were no glitches, the Solacom equipment just went right along with the call volume and everything went really well in the 9-1-1 call center.”

Solacom, in partnership with reseller and service provider AK Associates, deployed the NG 9-1-1 controller in a geo-diverse configuration with host locations at the old Pike County 9-1-1 center in Milford, Pa., and the new location 16 miles away in Lords Valley. The two sites are linked via fiber-optic cables that carry emergency and administrative calls, as well as data such as mapping and CAD. The system design allows either of the host locations to handle the 9-1-1 calls and 9-1-1 positions if they are cut off because of a network disruption.

With the system, operators have complete control of each participant of a call, allowing the dispatchers to create private conversations or mute disruptive participants. Operators can also join two separate calls, dynamically allowing parties who call into the system on separate lines to communicate real time. The system will also provide compatibility with text messaging services expected to be available in 2014 as recently announced by the FCC.

“We have increased verification of the equipment before it ships, and this has been paying off in terms of quicker and easier cutover at the customer site,” said Tony Parrott, vice president of sales at Solacom.

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