911 calls working well on new UI system
Emergency 911 calls from campus are being routed through the new University of Illinois computer-based phone system, and officials say it's worked well so far.
The system had to be adapted to ensure emergency dispatchers received adequate location information from 911 callers, since the campus had not recorded the location of every computer port.
The data also had to be converted into usable information for METCAD dispatchers. The UI hired a private vendor, 911 Enable, for that service, at an initial cost of $114,000 and then $34,000 annually.
CITES successfully tested the new system with the UI Division of Public Safety and METCAD, and it went live June 18, said Greg Gulick, director of application services for the Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services. Two calls have come in since then, with no problems reported, Gulick said.
"We're getting calls, we're getting location data, and so far from what I've seen it's been as accurate as the old system," said METCAD Deputy Director Greg Abbott.
The only information that isn't displayed automatically is the caller's phone number, but METCAD and the UI have created two backup systems that allow a dispatcher to call the person back if a call is lost, he said. The problem has to do with the nature of voice-over-Internet services, and priority was given to location data, Abbott said.
A $1 million upgrade to METCAD's computer system, already planned for the next eight to 10 months, will resolve that issue, Abbott said.
"The university just got a little bit ahead of what we were able to receive with our current phone system for the location data," Abbott said. "It's not exactly perfect for what we would hope to see, but it's working as well as we can make it for now."
Interim UI Police Chief Jeff Christensen praised representatives from METCAD and CITES for working out a solution and said he was satisfied with the tests.
"There really were some hoops that people needed to jump through," Christensen said. "If there were issues we would have held off on implementation. We'll keep an eye on it and continue to evaluate it."