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Hamilton County invests $500,000 in improving 911 response times

Posted at 1:42 AM, Jul 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 01:42:29-04

CINCINNATI — The Hamilton County Communications Center has invested close to $500,000 in improvements to its 911 response system, hoping to shave valuable seconds off each call will help them save more lives.

The bulk of that investment — $300,000 — went into Locution, a new technology that uses voice alerting to reach out to fire and emergency services automatically. Instead of dispatchers having to contact emergency responders manually after receiving an urgent call, Locution gets in touch for them.

“Anywhere that you can hedge, even if it’s just a few seconds, you’re gaining extra time to try to help someone in an emergency situation,” Hamilton County Communications Center director of communications Andrew Knapp said.

The Locution system saves a total of about 18 hours each week, he added. That’s 64,800 seconds.

Another $15,000 has gone into adopting ASAP to PSAP, which communicates with home alarm companies via computer instead of via phone. In the past, according to Knapp, those interactions would involve several separate phone calls and require a call-taker to manually enter information into the center’s computer system so emergency responders could head to the scene.

Now, it’s automatic. Information appears in the system, and units are dispatched accordingly.

The money for these improvements comes from Hamilton County’s cell phone tax, Knapp said. It generates about $806,000 each year — only a fraction of the center’s overall budget, but a fraction that can be reliably re-invested in making it faster, better and more responsive.

“It’s not a shiny new fire truck or a brand new police car,” Knapp said of the new systems. “It’s essentially one of the biggest and best tools we have access to in our toolbox to try and help our citizens.”