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Board approves $484,000 for 911 system

The St. Francois County 911 Board approved the purchase of a nearly half-million dollar state-of-the-art 911 system when it recently met in regular session.

The new-generation 911 system is new to the United States, but has reportedly been successfully used in European countries in recent years.

Addressing the board, 911 Communications Director Alan Wells said that the Public Safety Committee had a unanimous recommendation regarding the purchase of the new 911 system for the county.

The committee is made up of board Chairman Ron Bockenkamp and board member Todd Mecey, St. Francois County Sheriff Dan Bullock, fireman Bob Reeves, St. Francois County Ambulance District Director David Tetrault, Ste. Genevieve representative Robert Bach (by phone), Ste. Genevieve Sheriff Gary Stolzer and Ste. Genevieve Ambulance District Administrator Kendall Shrum.

“We fully recommend entering into a contractual agreement with Atos/Unify for our new 911 system at $484,000,” Wells said. “This will be a pilot project for this company.”

Board member and Desloge Police Chief James Bullock asked, “When you say pilot project, you mean this is the first time they did this?”

Wells replied, “No, sir. It’s the first time for this type of a project in the United States. They’re in the 911 business in the United States, but not in this new technical arena that we’re in.”

Atos representative Phillip R. Rotheram interjected, “It’s a pilot for a new version of our application app, so the technology that supports it, everything behind it, has been in use for a long, long time — 10, 15, 20 years. It’s just this new application layer.

“Anytime we come out with a brand new application layer — like a new version of Windows type of thing — we always go and seek a client somewhere to be the first deployment of that within a region. So, you guys would be the first deployment within this region. It has been deployed in Europe already, but as Mr. Wells was saying, this will be the first time in the U.S.”

Bullock asked, “With it being done in another country, are we going to be able to experience the same quality of service or will there be technical difficulties?”

Rotheram said, “The level of service that you guys will get as being part of a pilot project is exponentially greater than for our regular deployment. You guys will get a lot of attention and support. Our other deployments haven’t experienced any issues. We are actually in the process of going live with the city of Paris, France right now, so it’s going very well.”

Jumping back into the conversation, Director Wells said, “I might add that the technology is not in development. It is deliverable, it’s just not been delivered here in the states yet. The system and us being the pilot brings a lot of extras with it that we could not get if we tried to bid that out. It’s a sole-source provider. After much study and evaluation of the 911 equipment providers in the United States, this was the unanimous decision and the recommendation of the administration that we enter into this pilot project.”

Chairman Bockenkamp said, “I think the trigger word was ‘pilot.’ This board has been very adamant — and correctly so, I think — in saying that any vendor we retain on the technical side is committing to a product that they can deliver, not something that is in development. Maybe the word pilot suggested a little weakness in that position — and there is no weakness. Your commitment of your company is deliverables, correct?”

Rotheram replied, “Absolutely chairman.”

Bockenkamp asked board attorney Joe Goff Sr. if he had reviewed the contract with Atos/Unify.

“Yes, it seems like an outstanding proposal,” Goff said. “We’re getting a lot of bang for our buck.”

Bockenkamp said, “To Alan’s credit — I don’t know how you came across these people — but he did a very thorough job. He’s been researching other potential vendors and it ends up we sent him over to Spain based on the initial presentation by [Rotheram] representing his company. I think the board — if you approve this motion that has been made and seconded — is making the absolute correct decision for where we want to go.”

The board unanimously approved entering an agreement with Atos/Unify for the purchase of the next-generation 911 system.

In other action, incumbent board members David Pratte, Wendall Jarvis, Ginger Taylor and Todd Mecey were sworn in for another two-year term. All ran unopposed in the April 4 election.

While workers make rapid progress on the expansion/renovation project at the St. Francois County 911 Communications Center in Park Hills, members of the 911 Board have approved the almost half-a-million-dollar purchase of a state-of-the-art, next-generation 911 system that has never been used in the United States before.

While workers make rapid progress on the expansion/renovation project at the St. Francois County 911 Communications Center in Park Hills, members of the 911 Board have approved the almost half-a-million-dollar purchase of a state-of-the-art, next-generation 911 system that has never been used in the United States before.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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