Oklahoma City Ready to Take the Next Step

Last month Oklahoma City joined a growing number of progressive communities taking the next steps towards Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1). Learn about the process the city followed to select their NG provider, the decision they made and why the decision is working for the citizens and gives Lucien Jones, in particular, a point of personal pride.

The Oklahoma City Public Safety Communications Center, an Airbus DS Communications’ customer for over a decade, is home to communications operations for the City’s police, fire and EMS agencies. Each agency employs Calltakers for its respective functions, and the Center processes 2,000 to 3,000 9-1-1 calls per day from the 600,000 citizens they serve and protect across 620 square miles.

Lucien Jones, the City’s Communications Center Manager, remarks, “Our previous VESTA® system was reliable, but we needed to move ahead in order to be NG9-1-1 ready.” He explains, “Our residents expect that the way they communicate with one another, which includes text messaging, to naturally be an option for how they would seek emergency help. The new VESTA 9-1-1 VoIP-based platform positions us to not only embrace the NG9-1-1 environment, but also provides state-of-the-art redundancy to ensure the public has reliable 9-1-1 service.”

The process to choose a solution to meet the City’s needs began with a comprehensive specification and request for proposal, to which five vendors provided response. Lucien says, “The published evaluation criteria boiled down to the best technology and service available to fit the needs of our PSAP.”

Managers within the Oklahoma City Public Safety Communications Center hold themselves and Calltakers accountable to high performance goals related to call taking and call processing. Therefore, Lucien explains, “It was important that the features of the new 9-1-1 system support those goals not only with call center-based call handling, but by also providing performance reports, workload statistics and workload trends.”

He adds, “We wanted to be sure the features we had in our current VESTA system would be duplicated and enhanced in our new system, and one of the advantages of going with the VESTA 9-1-1 product was that the Calltakers’ screens had some of the same look and feel.” This semblance has allowed Calltakers to maintain efficiency, and new features, like the “handling of abandoned 9-1-1 calls,” have even allowed them to work more effectively.

Additionally, Lucien says management is excited about the possibilities the new system offers. He explains, “The solution we’ve purchased will allow future expansion, which could include a separate backup call center and geodiverse server facilities. There’s also the expectation for our first responders to be able to receive additional information in the future via other emerging media such as images and videos.”

Lucien, a 43-year Oklahoma City employee and APCO’s 2013 Information Technologist of the Year, sums it up best when he says, “A point of personal pride and achievement comes in knowing that I’ve coordinated the acquisition and installation of public safety technology that our users can not only be proud of, but our citizens can depend on.”