It is relatively easy for Piatt County Sheriff David Hunt to illustrate how outdated his records management and report generating equipment is.
“Our system – don’t laugh – is a DOS-based system, that’s how old it is,” Hunt told the county emergency systems telephone board on May 30.
One of the original computer operating systems, MS-DOS dominated the technology scene when introduced in 1981, but declined in use during the ‘90s as other systems took precedence once the personal computer era took hold.
Hunt is not sure how old Piatt County’s system is, but knows it dates back at least two decades to when he was a deputy for the county.
The Sheriff’s Department will spend $137,000 to replace its record keeping system to a Spillman/Motorola based one, and Hunt convinced the ETSB that it was worth another $75,000 for the 9-1-1 Department to jump on board.
DeWitt County and some other area agencies are also sharing equipment and servers in order to bring the cost down, saving Piatt County at least $70,000 on the upgrade. Since DeWitt County will have its 9-1-1 operations on Spillman, Hunt said it made sense for Piatt County to do the same.
“If I didn’t get 9-1-1 on board it wasn’t going to be a project for us, and it just made more sense that, since we’re backups to DeWitt County, that we’re all sharing the same system, and that we’re all interlinked together and communicating the same information,” added Hunt.
ETSB Chairman Todd Jones noted an upgrade will be required anyway due to state requirements to eventually upgrade to Next Generation 9-1-1 capabilities.
“The system we have now, we have to replace regardless, because it’s outdated and won’t work with our Next Gen. The one we have we don’t have a maintenance contract, so it hasn’t been updated in years,” said Jones.
For sheriff’s deputies, the Spillman system will make for more rapid communication when emergency calls are received at the dispatch center.
“If you have a computer in your vehicle, or a tablet, then they can send you that information right then and there. You’ll get it as the dispatcher is typing it in.”
It is also a records system that will eliminate much of the duplicate entry currently required sheriff’s and jail personnel.
Enhanced GPS capability will also be a plus, said the sheriff.
“It can track you, and tell you where to go,” he noted, adding that it will integrate with the county’s current GIS mapping system.
Firemen will also be able to use the system and its information for their reports, said Hunt.
Agencies taking part in the cooperative upgrade to Spillman include DeWitt and Piatt County Sheriff’s Departments, DeWitt and Piatt County 9-1-1 operations, Farmer City Police, Clinton Police and Clinton Fire. Monticello Police are also considering the proposal.
“It’s a good system,” commented Jones, who is also the Northern Piatt County Fire Protection chief. “I know it sounds like a lot of money, but I know what I paid for computer software at the fire department, this is a good deal.”
The ETSB board voted 10-0 to sign on to the system upgrade.