Digital 9-1-1 will cost more

Published 12:20 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Charlotte County has for some time now recognized the need to replace the old and outdated 9-1-1 systems, but the initial move to a digital platform would be costly. Like many of the counties across the state, Charlotte has been looking for a way to defray some of the cost and still get a new, digital emergency system (E9-1-1) and all of its peripherals up and running as soon as possible.
Charlotte County has the opportunity to participate in a cooperative purchasing agreement with Fairfax and AT&T. Fairfax County recently entered into an agreement with AT&T in order to implement their new, E9-1-1 system. AT&T has agreed to install and update the infrastructure needed to run the digital 9-1-1 system. A report from Charlotte County attorney Russell Slayton to Charlotte County Administrator Daniel Witt outlined the agreement’s peak figures, such as cost outlay, length of contract, and projected increase in expenditure over the old system.
According to the report the cost of the equipment to Charlotte [County] is projected at approximately $748,260. This entire amount will be paid with grant funds.
The monthly recurring cost for the AT&T solution is approximately $3,950.00, an amount that is fixed for a ten-year term. The currently monthly recurring cost for the legacy E9-1-1 solution is approximately $1,400.00. The estimated monthly increase will therefore be $2,550.00. This monthly increase will be paid by grants funds for a period of 24 months after deployment is complete. At the end of the 24 months, the entire cost (approximately $3,950.00) will be the responsibility of the PSAP. That will afford the County two years to consider how the additional cost of approximately $30,000.00 per year can be worked into the county budget. The implementation period is approximately 11 months, so if the Board approves the AT&T proposal and authorizes signing of the agreement at its March meeting, the new equipment will probably be operational in February 2020.
The AT&T agreement presents the county an opportunity to buy mandated equipment with minimal expenditure of local funds.
An accompanying informational flyer explained why the cost of the systems operation is costlier and how the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) will assist Charlotte county to bring the new system online.
“As Virginia migrates from analog to digital technology for 9-1-1 service calls, each locally administered emergency call center will need to complete certain infrastructure upgrades. While the state is paying the capital costs for replacement and upgrades (including connectivity upgrades such as installation of fiber), it is expected that most of the 123 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) programs will need to significantly increase their monthly operation payments. Preliminary estimates of the change in monthly recurring costs show a statewide increase of more than $6 million per year.”
To help localities with the increase in expense, the 9-1-1 Services Board will cover the increases in monthly operation payments for the first 24 months after the next generation service becomes operational for each PSAP program. The flyer warned of possible slight mis-quotes that would affect costs.
“VITA staff cautions that these estimates are based on preliminary survey data and several factors may result in modified estimates. For example, actual recurring costs for the Fairfax County contract are proving less than estimated based on the newly installed service by AT&T. Additionally; VITA has identified some errors in population data that will result in changes to the final cost estimates.
“It is important to note that each PSAP may choose to enter into the AT&T contract or bid for an alternative vendor. If a PSAP chooses another vendor, the equipment must be compatible with AT&T technology.”