City of Upper Arlington, Ohio

911 Dispatching Consolidation

Updated February 14, 2017

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City to Partner with Dublin's Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center

At the Monday, February 13, 2017 City Council Meeting, Council voted unanimously in favor of a Motion directing the City Manager to proceed with the consolidation of 911/dispatching services with Dublin's Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center. Final preparations to implement this merger have begun. It is anticipated that the transition will take up to one year to fully complete. Updates will be provided here as progress is made.

Background

December 2016 Letter From the Police and Fire Chiefs  |  January 31 Public Meeting PresentationSend Us Your Questions

The City is proud of its exceptional 911/dispatching services, however advances in technology and the increasing use of cellular phones are negatively impacting how efficiently we can dispatch Police, Fire and EMS units to emergency calls for service. A Staff team has been studying this complex issue for approximately six years, considering the best practices of other entities, closely monitoring changes in state regulations and countywide-dispatching protocols, and exploring opportunities with potential consolidation partners that could satisfy our service level requirements as well as current and future technological needs. Having concluded that consolidation with a regional dispatching center is the City's best option for meeting the community's emergency dispatching needs into the future, in early 2015 initial contract discussions were begun with the City of Columbus. However, over the course of 2016 Staff continued exploration of the available options, with new information coming to light indicating that a consolidation with the Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center (NRECC) at the City of Dublin was likely the City's best option.

In December 2016, the City's two safety chiefs sent correspondence to the City Manager sharing their belief that the issue of 911/dispatching is the most important issue facing their respective divisions and that it is critical for a final decision to be made early in 2017.

To that end, this issue came before City Council in January and February, accompanied by an extensive schedule of community outreach and engagement.

Public and City Council Meetings:

  • January 17 Council Conference Session - Staff provided a brief overview of the history of the issue, the Police and Fire Chief outlined their reasons for seeking a final decision along with their recommendation on how to proceed.
  • January 31 Public Meeting - This Public Meeting featured presentations from the Police and Fire Chief, insight on the Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center from Director Jay Somerville and from representatives of the NRECC's partners from the City of Hilliard Police Department and Norwich Township Fire. Residents were invited to submit questions in advance of the meeting.
  • February 6 Council Conference Session - An opportunity was provided for further Council discussion and public comments.
  • February 13 City Council Meeting - With one final opportunity for Council discussion and public input, Council then voted unanimously in support of the Motion directing the City Manager to proceed with a consolidation of 911/dispatching services with Dublin.

Coffees With the Safety Chiefs
Police Chief Tracy Hahn and Fire Chief Lyn Nofziger hosted a series of conversations open to residents per the following scheudle:

  • 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 24, at Fire Station 72 on Reed Road
  • 10:30-11:30 a.m., Saturday, January 28, at the Tremont Library
  • 5:30-6:30 p.m., Thursday, February 2, at the Giant Eagle Market District at Kingsdale, 2nd Floor dining area
  • 8:30-9:30 a.m., Friday, February 3, in the Lower Level Meeting Room of the Municipal Services Center

Telephone Town Hall
On February 8 at 7 p.m., Police Chief Tracy Hahn, Fire Chief Lyn Nofziger and NRECC Director Jay Somerville hostrf a Telephone Town Hall to answer residents' questions about the consolidation. More than 300 residents listened to some or all of the discussion.

Additional Community Engagement Activities
A series of presentations were scheduled with area civic groups, such as the Upper Arlington and Tri-Village Rotary Clubs, Northwest Kiwanis, etc. The City also posted updates on social media, including a series of videos about the issue.

 

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Facts About Upper Arlington’s Current System

  • Upper Arlington’s current hardware and technology is outdated, and needs to be replaced within the short term.
  • Upper Arlington does not and cannot directly receive cellular 911 calls.
  • State and Franklin County regulations and technology protocols trends are reducing the number of communication centers able to receive cellular 911 calls, from five to four. Upper Arlington is not nor will it ever be designated as one of those centers able to directly receive cellular 911 calls.
  • The next generation of 911/dispatching State and Franklin County best practices and technology protocols will also require an increase in the number of staff on duty at any given time, thereby increasing overall staffing levels within smaller dispatching centers like Upper Arlington.
  • The reality is that Upper Arlington will need to consolidate 911/dispatching services with another agency at some point in time. It makes sense to do this sooner than later to quickly address call routing for emergency cellular 911 calls, benefit from improved technology, expanded resources and to avoid wasting taxpayer dollars.

What Would Happen if UA Did Not Consolidate 911/Dispatching Services

  • Residents placing emergency 911 calls from their cellular phones would continue to have their calls routed to and answered by another communication center first—most likely Columbus—before being transferred to an Upper Arlington dispatcher. As the use of cellular phones in place of landlines increases, this inefficient approach for processing cellular 911 calls would become the norm for the majority of emergency calls.
  • The much-needed replacement of equipment and initial technology upgrades to maintain our current system would cost in excess of $350,000.
  • As/when directed by Franklin County, the City would need to expand its dispatching staffing levels.
  • Annual costs to the City would increase from approximately $950,000 per year to an average of $1.3 million per year.

Our Commitment to the Community

  • UA Police and Fire/EMS personnel would still respond quickly to residents’ calls for emergency assistance, and provide the premier level of safety services upon which residents rely.
  • There would be less opportunity for jurisdictional confusion among police agencies.

Associated Documents


Date of Record: 2017-02-14