Within two years, most if not all of Utah County will be operating on a sophisticated emergency dispatching system.
Members of the Council of Governments voted unanimously Thursday evening to proceed with full implementation of an enhanced 911 emergency telephone system. The enhanced 911 system uses computers to tell dispatchers a caller's address and phone number as soon as the dispatcher answers a 911 call.The COG vote follows two years of educating local government officials and county residents on what the system will do, and working out the details of how it will be implemented, funded and operated.
Cedar Fort and Woodland Hills are the only two Utah County cities not yet committed to join the system, but Utah County Commissioner Brent Morris said he believes they will. Implementation of the system will not be affected if the two cities do not join. However, once the system is on line, cities not participating will not have 911 service.
A select committee presented COG members with a report and recommendations on implementation of the system. The select committee includes members of the Provo, Orem, Utah County, Pleasant Grove and Springville emergency dispatch centers.
The COG accepted recommendations to establish three public safety answering points in the county - in Orem, Provo and Utah County - and to contract with US WEST for the system. Cities will select which answering point they want to handle their emergency calls.
Also, Springville and Pleasant Grove have the option to have an FX transfer line (for voice communication) and video display hook-up to allow them to see the same information that the public safety answerng point receives.
Smaller cities had expressed concernover their right to establish their own answering points at a later date. Commissioner Morris said such adjustments would be possible.
"The only concern the county has is if all the cities jump the ship and Utah County is left with an inadequate number of lines (to support their answering point)," said Morris.
Provo Police Capt. Jerry Markling said cities would need to have enough phone lines to support a center adequately, and it was unlikely that smaller cities would be able to do that.
The report said initial one-time costs to implement the system will include approximately $150,000 per answering point, and $171,469 for preparation of the data base and line connections to the centers.
Continuing costs to lease and maintain the system will be approximately $14,071 per month.
A 50-cent surcharge per residential phone line will finance the initial start-up cost. It is expected to take slightly less than 17 months to collect enough funds to cover those initial costs. The surcharge is then expected to drop to 35 cents per month.
Provo and Orem have already begun collecting the surcharge. It will probably be added to the phone bills of other Utah County residents within the next two months.