Software System Puts County Public Safety Agencies on Same Page

Berkeley County, S.C., public safety agencies have a new software system that feeds them real-time 911 caller information, includes a narcotics management application and a record management system.

by Jim McKay / October 3, 2019

A new software system has upgraded the way Berkeley County, S.C., public safety agencies share data and eliminates the duplication that occurred until the deployment of the system last month.

The Southern Software CAD system included mobile data terminals (MDTs) for all police, fire, and EMS vehicles, which will now be able to share real-time 911 call data instead of having everyone on a radio like before. The system is integrated with a jail management system, a narcotics management system, a resource management system and a records management system.

The system eliminates the duplication that took place before. For instance, when a dispatcher takes a 911 call and begins to enter information, that information transfers to the deputy or officer on the call and then to the jail if an arrest is made. Before the system, the dispatcher would enter the call information, then the officer — not having access to the dispatcher’s information — would begin the process again, re-entering the data. That process would be duplicated if the suspect was admitted to jail.

“It’s a lot more efficient,” said David Kornahrens, chief information officer for the County Supervisor’s Office. “We’re increasing productivity and cutting down on duplication, and we’re a lot better at controlling our data,” he said.

As first responders receive 911 call information via their MDTs, they will assess resource needs and situational awareness based on the data prior to arriving on the scene. This also helps free up the radios during an incident if multiple agencies are requesting information via radio. Those agencies can now get all that data through the MDT and also use the MDT to communicate arrival on scene or departure or other nonemergency information.

The narcotics management system is accessible to narcotics officers only, because it contains critical information about informants, money for buying narcotics in raids and evidentiary information. The system also includes a ProQA application that provides medical instructions to help dispatchers ask the right questions and then it gives the call a code, categorizing it so the dispatcher knows exactly what is needed.

“When somebody calls, it’s a very panicky situation, especially when they need police, fire and EMS,” Kornahrens said. “So sometimes a dispatcher may not know the right questions even if they’ve been doing it for 30 years. This makes sure we line up the data in a systematic approach.”

The system was implemented within 120 days of the county signing a contract with Southern Software. This after a previous vendor was cut loose for not being able to stay on schedule.
Kornahrens said it was a few years ago that the county, one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S., realized it needed software to “put everyone on the same page.”

“It is exactly what we expected. Everything is integrated, and talks with everything else and across multiple applications, but there is a learning curve and we’re still training,” he said. “The company is good in terms of support.”

The system costs about $880,000.

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