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Agencies hoping for communication grant

Technology would allow more efficient emergency dispatching in Hall County

POSTED: October 14, 2007 5:06 a.m.

When law enforcement officials are sent out on a call, they rely on radio communication with dispatchers to give them everything they need to know.

That communication would be enhanced if Hall County receives a grant that would allow officers to pull up all that information on a screen without having to tie up radio frequencies.

"As the community grows and our departments grow, our radio traffic has grown significantly also," Hall County Sheriff’s Maj. Jeff Strickland said.

Hall County has until Friday to apply for the Public Safety Interoperable Communications grant, administered by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

Marty Nix, central communications director for Hall County, is applying for $1.9 million of computer equipment to be installed in all public safety vehicles.

The computers are "a much more efficient way to dispatch and receive emergency calls," he said.

Nix is applying for the grant on behalf of Hall County, Gainesville, Oakwood and Flowery Branch.

Currently, all law enforcement agencies in Hall County communicate

via an 800 MHz radio system, which they began using in March.

With the grant, 281 computers would be installed in all public safety vehicles. Officers would then receive emergency calls on the computers.

"That will allow our officers to have much more information when they’re going on a call," Strickland said.

He said they’ll be able to see exactly what the caller has told the dispatcher.

Once a call comes in, officers could pull up all the call information, location of the call, directions, the person calling and the type of emergency.

Strickland said officers will be able to acknowledge that they’ve gotten a call by pressing a button.

With the technology, "We will be able to reduce our radio traffic significantly," he said.

The system also provides law enforcement officials with mapping data. Officers can pull up an aerial map of the area where they are going.

"That is especially critical in very serious calls," Strickland said. "At the same time, it leaves our radio airways open for emergency traffic."

Nix said officials are currently testing the data system to get all the bugs worked out.

The county would likely find out in March if it received the grant, which is a 20 percent match grant.

Each law enforcement agency would pay 20 percent of the cost of equipment, based on the number of computers it wants to purchase.



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