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Hall County 911 system upgrades continue with nearly $10 million in approved funding
Commissioners OK revenue from special sales tax
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Communications officers Chelsea Wallace and Pamela Taylor work at their desks Friday at the Hall County 911 Center. The next improvements to the emergency 911 system will be improving the radio network, which will consist of updating transmission sites, among other projects. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Hilda Bell

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The Hall County Board of Commissioners on Thursday OK’d spending $9.5 million from special purpose local option sales tax revenues to complete the next phase of overhauling the emergency 911 system.

The previous network was outdated, officials said, and discontinued parts had to be used to stretch the lifespan of the network.

The new phone system, which officials describe as the “heart of the network,” went online late last year following renovations to the call center.

About $350,000 was budgeted to transfer the network to an Internet-based system, allowing for better response to calls for help and streamlined information sharing among public safety agencies.

“That gave us the foundation of what we needed,” Assistant County Administrator and Public Safety Director Marty Nix said.

Officials said they are now ready to begin improving the radio network, which will consist of updating transmission sites, among other projects. The Motorola radio console system runs on Windows XP, and upgrades were discontinued in 2009, for example.

Remaking the emergency 911 system is the first big-budget item funded with SPLOST VII revenues. Voters approved the 1 percent sales tax last March, which is estimated to generate $158 million over five years.

Hall County collected close to $17.5 million in SPLOST VII revenues from the beginning of July to the end of January.

About $13 million has been budgeted for overall improvements.

For example, the public safety communications system, which allows fire and police departments to coordinate with the 911 center, also requires software and infrastructure upgrades.

Officials have said emergency response times are significantly delayed and compromised because its modem systems, located at remote sites across the county, are out of date.

The upgrades are considered a level two project with countywide impact.

About $23 million will be swiped off the top of SPLOST VII revenues for these countywide projects, which also include renovations to the Senior Life Center and upgrades to the main library branch in downtown Gainesville.

The final phase of the 911 overhaul, which includes new computer dispatch software, is still 12 to 18 months out, Nix said.

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