County getting 911 upgrade

The county plans to spend more than $240,000 to upgrade outdated computer software used for 911 emergency calls.

The new software will make it easier when transferring those calls from Jackson County to another county.

Jackson County 911 Director Heather Davis recently told commissioners Jackson is one of a few counties in the state still using CML software for their 911 system, which was implemented in 1994.

The software is used during incoming emergency calls, calls received from the sheriff’s department and from Seymour police to transfer them to outside agencies or access poison control, Davis said.

Currently, when transfers are made to other counties, the caller ID displays the call as a nonemergency number rather than a 911 call.

“It takes longer for it to be picked up because they’re not getting the information, and they are not aware that it’s 911 unless dispatch says that it is,” Davis said.

She referred to calls transferred to Brown County saying that it will give them an automated system reply because it doesn’t know the call is an emergency.

“If ours is their first call and they have other calls coming through, they will answer those first because they have no clue since ours looks like an administration call on the caller ID,” she said.

Davis said the outdated system also caused issues recently after the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approved the change to 10-digit dialing because the 812 area code, which encompasses the southern third of Indiana, was running out of telephone numbers.

“Because our equipment was so outdated, it wasn’t compatible with the area code change,” she said.

The county’s upgrade to a new ECS system will fix the time and age constraints.

“Instead of going to an administration line, the calls will be directed toward a 911 database,” Davis said. “It will save a lot of time to get help for someone who needs it.”

She also said the new system, which is what other states are using, will allow dispatch to transfer calls to any county in the state since they are on the same system. Currently, they can only transfer to surrounding areas.

On Tuesday, county commissioners voted 3-0 to allow the 911 board to use money from the 911 fund toward an improved system. The fund is financed by a monthly 95-cent fee each telephone user must pay.

The 10-member 911 advisory board also approved the upgrade earlier this month.

The upgrade, to be installed by Frontier Communications, could take about six to eight weeks, Davis said.