Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC) has been nominated for the The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials – International (APCO) Horizon Award.

The Horizon Award: Recognizing the Proactive Achievements of Communications Centers

This award serves to recognize the technological advancements of communications centers across the nation with the enhancement of voice and data communications. Technology has a direct correlation and impact on operational policies and procedures. The intent of this award is to acknowledge the efforts of communications centers that have proactively assessed and met the technological and operational needs of their center, employees and service population.  Source: APCO’s Website

2010 saw numerous Technical advancements at Salt Lake Valley Emergency Communication Center (VECC). The first project that had one of the most notable impacts on the center was the fully deployed CAD2CAD interface. VECC is a Primary Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) in Salt Lake County; as such it handles 911 calls for service for two thirds of the geographic region. Many calls for service are outside the dispatch service area of VECC. Through grant funding a joint project was put together that involved VECC and the Salt Lake County Sheriff office a secondary PSAP. The project was to provide interoperability between the disparate Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems.

The project took approximately 18 months to complete and involved both agencies CAD vendors as well as a third party vendor to deploy an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). The project was developed to expedite information from one PSAP to the other as well as to reduce the duplication of questioning, that was time consuming and frustrating for the caller.

The system also provided a real time combined data feed to a web based secured application for monitoring and displaying calls for service as well resources utilized on those calls. The application that was chosen was provided by FlyteComm.

After the success of the CAD2CAD with the Sheriff office, VECC expanded the ability of the interface to include Gold Cross Ambulance and yet another disparate CAD system. This interface facilitates the data transfer on specific calls to EMS requests for transport. In the past these notifications were manually made by telephone and sometimes delays were experienced.

When VECC’s current building was constructed in 2000 the location was not equipped to allow for redundant paths for emergency telephone connection. Essentially there was one pedestal that controlled all lines into the facility creating a single point of failure. In 2010 VECC was able to resolve this issue by upgrading to a Self Healing Alternate Route Protection (SHARP) ring. This provided VECC with a dual route auto-detecting redundant feed eliminating the single point of failure. The SHARP ring also provided fiber connectivity opposed to the old copper lines.

With the upgrade to the telephone line feed VECC was able to pursue Next Generation 911 (NG911) capabilities. Working with our service provider Qwest and Intrado we were able to install IP based wireless call transfers through the Intrado Intelligent Emergency Network (IEN). This project was the first in the State of Utah and is currently being used as the model for a statewide role out. In December of 2010 VECC’s 11 wireless trunks were cut over to the new network.

In September of 2010 VECC performed a forklift upgrade to our CAD system hardware. The old hardware was 4 years old and was never intended to accommodate nearly 350 mobile users in addition to dispatch operations personnel.

The new IBM solution provides VECC with enough hardware resources to accommodate the current mobile users as well as allowing for future growth. The new system also provides enough resources that should an agency desire, they could host their Report Management Software (RMS) on VECC’s server.

The old system provided redundancy in that there were two servers; however they were side by side in the same server room. With the new hardware we were able to separate the two servers by means of a fiber connection into a different building on campus. This measure added and additional layer of redundancy to the Center.

One issue that VECC experienced during the H1N1 virus outbreak was the need to be able to data mine calls that were pertinent to the outbreak. We currently had no user friendly application to segregate calls based on symptoms. We located a vendor FirstWatch that met the need. We purchased the required hardware and software. Since May of 2010 we now have a user friendly web based dashboard that allows not only Center for Disease Control analysis but also allows our fire/ems agencies real time analysis of all fire and medical related calls.

The last improvement that was made during the year was another forklift upgrade of our audio recording system. The old system was nearly 8 years old and had limitations to the amount of storage space. The limit was 60 days. If an agency required a copy of the call it needed to be manually pulled and archived somewhere else in that time frame. The current system allows us to store that same data for 180 days. Another benefit from the new system was the ability to monitor both radio and/or telephone traffic real time if a situation requires.

2010 was a very busy and protective year here at Salt Lake Valley Emergency Communication Center.