Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


Texas towns consolidate 911 services, boost response times

Four Texas communities are consolidating their 911 services to form the North Texas Emergency Communications Center (NTECC), a partnership expected to reduce costs and improve service in all four communities.

The infrastructure and 911-dispatch center for Carrollton, Coppell, Farmers Branch and Addison, Texas, will be hosted at the CyrusOne Carrollton data center. The 12,000 square-foot space will include call center workstations, meeting rooms, a technology space, and reliable electrical and mechanical systems. The project, which is expected to be complete by early 2015,  marks the first time a dispatch center has chosen a colocation provider for its datacenter and dispatch needs, CyrusOne said in its announcement.

“Consolidation will allow us to combine our resources, save costs, and serve our communities more efficiently. The closest unit available will now be able to respond to the scene of a crime or accident, no matter the jurisdiction, saving precious time. We won’t have instances where someone needing assistance would have to wait for a unit in their jurisdiction that could actually be further away because they sit right on a city line,” said Gary Greer, NTECC board president.

“CyrusOne offers us a facility that would have taken us years to build,” Greer added, with its optimal power, resiliency, disaster recovery and security.

CyrusOne's 670,000-square-foot data center in Dallas/Carrollton is the largest facility of its kind in the state and one of the most energy efficient in the United States, the company said. Part of the Texas Internet exchange, the facility has 24/7 security, is carrier neutral, and can provide up to 60 megawatts of power.

Posted on Aug 13, 2014 at 9:44 AM0 comments


Autonomic Resources offers agencies a self-service cloud platform

Autonomic Resources announced a new cloud service the firm says gives government agencies a self-service cloud platform for infrastructure management.

With ARC-P On Premise, government community or private clouds can be replicated on agency premises, giving agencies the same cloud services for physical or virtual machines that are offered from the company’s off premise data centers, it said in an announcement.

ARC-P On Premise features the ability to customize the disaster recovery requirements of ab on-premise cloud service and to provide multisite cloud services to customer agencies. It also includes multi-factor authentication that supports agency HSPD-12 CAC/PIV integration requirements.

Posted on Aug 12, 2014 at 9:43 AM0 comments


National lab shops for wearable gear for first responders

In an effort to enhance safety and performance of first responders in fast moving, complex emergency environments, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is undertaking a multiyear project to create wearable communication systems for emergency responders.

According to a recent announcement on FedBizOpps, PNNL is looking for a partner with knowledge of the integration of communications systems typically used by the emergency management and first responder community, including 4G LTE cellular technology for public safety communications, Federal Land Mobile Radio Systems (LMR), as well as Wi-Fi and satellite systems.

PNNL wants to identify companies that can integrate these systems into wearable components that would enable first responders to transmit and receive mission critical voice, video, and data communications from fellow responders, incident commanders, dispatchers and central command and control facilities.

Specifically, the lab is looking for approaches that include the following:

  • Rugged, secure, voice activated, hands free, two- way voice, video and data communications with multiple parties.
  • GPS-enabled Blue Force Tracking of each responder.
  • Active noise canceling capability to eliminate any unnecessary background noise.
  • Smart technology to find and transition between cellular, LMR, Wi-Fi, and satellite systems and transmit and receive information based on information priorities and infrastructure availability.
  • Integrated sensors monitoring video, heart rate, external/internal temperatures
  • Recording and storage capability of up to 12 hours.
  • A seamless transition to existing federal land-based mobile systems and the ability to demonstrate compliance with existing Federal Communications Security Protocols for Emergency Management.

Posted on Aug 12, 2014 at 9:44 AM0 comments


FCC sets timetable for text-to-911

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules requiring text messaging providers to enable Americans to text 911 in an emergency. The new rules will ensure that all remaining wireless carriers and certain IP-based text application providers are prepared to support text-to-911 by the end of the year. After that time, if a 911 call center requests text-to-911, text messaging providers will have six months to deploy the service in that area.

According to the FCC, these rules will make text-to-911 more uniformly available and keeps pace with how Americans communicate.

The Commission’s text-to-911 requirements apply to wireless carriers and “interconnected” text messaging providers (i.e., those that enable consumers to send text messages to and from U.S. phone numbers). This includes providers of “over the top” applications that support texting to and from phone numbers. It does not include messaging apps that only support communications among users of games or social media, the FCC said.

Although text-to-911 availability is currently limited, it is rapidly expanding. More than one hundred 911 call centers serving portions of 16 states and two entire states (Vermont and Maine) are now accepting emergency texts. Text messaging providers are required to send an automatic “bounce-back” text message to consumers who try to text 911 where the service is not available.

Text-to-911 can provide a lifesaving alternative in a number of different situations, such as when a person who is deaf, hard of hearing, or has a speech disability is unable to make a voice call. The service can also help where voice networks are congested; or where a 911 voice call could endanger the caller, according to the FCC.

The Commission also wants comment on the continued evolution of text-to-911, including delivering texts to appropriate 911 public safety answering points as well as on proposals to improve text-to-911 service, such as through better location information and roaming support.

Posted on Aug 11, 2014 at 9:43 AM0 comments


Ohio moves on statewide IT consolidation

The state of Ohio is spending $62 million to consolidate legacy information technology systems across its state government agencies, according to a report in the Columbus Dispatch.

The project, which would centralize about 9,000 servers and 30 smaller data centers across 26 state agencies, is estimated to save $150 million, according to the report.

In December 2013, the state released its Consolidated IT Transformation Approach, which describes the strategy and implementation plans, which fall into three focus areas:

Private cloud expansion, which involves the consolidation, standardization and integration of the state’s highly distributed technical infrastructure into a centrally managed environment.

Enterprise shared solutions, which will provide a platform for common service application development.

Online government services that will deliver citizen-facing tools citizens to improve government-citizen interaction.

The state’s controlling board recently made a down payment on the project, approving a $62 million expenditure to get the project rolling.

The collaborative effort is expected to take five to seven years, a calculation taking into account the length of time state agencies have spent building-up their individual IT stovepipes.

The decision to begin funding the project raised questions by state legislators who asked whether taxpayers might be paying twice for the new systems.

“I don’t see the agencies standing behind you saying, ‘Take $62 million out of my budget,’ ” said one legislator,  who asked for reports on how the project would  produce savings.

However, Jennifer Leymaster, the Administrative Services’ agency chief financial officer, told legislators that funds for the money was in agency budgets, according to the report.

“This is a better way to run the state’s information technology business,” the Dispatch quoted Leymaster as saying. “We're not doing it 26 ways, but having one agency provide services.”

The consolidation will lead to the creation of 132 information technology positions, to be filled with workers from other agencies. However, the state expects eventually to cut the number of employees in technology jobs by 400 through attrition, the Dispatch reported.

Posted on Aug 08, 2014 at 9:43 AM0 comments