As of June, all 911 emergency calls in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, Mich., will be routed to the same place. In a consolidation strategy to streamline services and save money, the emergency dispatch staffs in the city and county now work out of one central downtown dispatch center.
The so-called "co-location" project was prompted by a new countywide digital radio system set to go live this month. The system required the city and county to make improvements on three dispatch centers. So instead of spending money to make those necessary upgrades, the city and county decided to join forces to share overhead costs by moving the two operations under one roof.
"The co-location of dispatch services is yet another way the city and county are working together to create opportunities to share costs while providing seamless emergency service to our citizens," said Sgt. Ed Dreslinski, emergency management operations director for Ann Arbor. "Several years ago we also combined our SWAT and mobile field force resources, which were natural fits for our two municipalities to share."
Placing the two staffs in one center, city officials said, will help minimize previous challenges. For example, the dispatch staffs struggled at times to determine the appropriate jurisdiction based on a caller's description of his or her whereabouts. The consolidation also cuts the need to transfer calls as frequently, which reduces the number of lost calls and transfer hold times. These changes will allow both staffs to share knowledge and top-notch technology, city officials said, which will lead to a more efficient delivery of emergency services.
"Whenever we had calls that were on the border or we weren't quite sure where they were, we often times would transfer people back and forth between the different agencies," Spring Tremaine, police administrative services lieutenant, who managed the project, told AnnArbor.com. "And we don't do that anymore. It's definitely going to be a streamline for the public, though they may not see it themselves."