Jones County Communications Running on Obsolete Software
By Forrest Saunders, Reporter
ANAMOSA, Iowa - Jones County needs a serious upgrade. The sheriff has claimed their dispatch center, that handles calls for law enforcement and emergency crews, is using obsolete technology. He said the county needs an update before the machines break down.
The center has two dispatch terminals that handled 14,000 service calls last year, all while operating on some seriously old software.
"Both of them are running off Windows 95. These are very old school computers," said Jones County Sheriff Greg Graver.
Graver worries the machines are on their death bed. He said if the county is using them when they finally go kaput, it will be a communications catastrophe.
"Here at the sheriff's office, we dispatch for every fire, ambulance, and law enforcement agency in the county. In the event this goes down, there's really not much backup behind it," said Graver.
Less than terminal malfunctions have happened in the past, like when a recent storm knocked out the system for a while. Dispatchers said they’re not keen on it happening again
"Well, we relied on our cell phones and a handheld radio," said Dispatcher Julie Brownell.
The sheriff said he’s working with the Jones County 911 Board to purchase equipment Linn County bought after the 2008 flood-- and then replaced to better communicate with surrounding agencies.
Though Jones County is getting hand-me-down equipment, the sheriff called it top quality.
"Their equipment, they're still selling it. It's not like a past model that you cannot buy. It's also upgradeable. The newer version of what we have," said Graver.
It'll be faster and utilize touch screens, but where to put it? It's a bigger system, that needs more space. The sheriff wants to use a meeting area in the courthouse, called the Community Room, which sits adjacent to their offices. The plan would then call for the Community Room to be moved across the hallway to some empty office space.
That space would need to be made handicap accessible, though. The sheriff is running the idea by county supervisors who are investigating the cost.
Regardless of supervisors’ feelings on moving dispatch, the sheriff said he and the 911 board are planning to buy the new computer systems. They’ve sent Linn County a formal request for purchase. The cost is about $30,000, with installation costing around $20,000. The sheriff hopes to have it up and running sometime next year.
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