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New aerial photographs could assist dispatchers

October 27, 2012
Morning Journal News

LISBON - Columbiana County's 911 committee is recommending an estimated $150,000 be spent for new aerial photographs that would allow dispatchers and safety personnel to view properties from every angle instead of just from the sky.

The expenditure must be approved by county commissioners and is being recommended by 911 Director Bob Emmons, who believes the additional images will benefit dispatchers when sending first responders to a 911 call.

The current aerial photographs of the county are approaching 10 years old and need updated, he said. The state provided aerial photographs in the past but has ceased doing so to cut costs.

Emmons said a company by the name of Picometry provides high-resolution aerial photographs but also from side angles in all four directions. Once incorporated into the 911 mapping system, dispatchers would be able to view properties from all sides instead of just from the sky when pinpointing a call's location.

The cost is currently $147,647 but could change by the time they contract with Picometry. The cost is likely to be shared with the county auditor's office and engineer's office since they are also interested in using Picometry's final product. The auditor, engineer and 911 committee are already splitting the cost of the 911 overall mapping system.

Emmons said they might be able to send the photographs to fire departments if they have the required software program. He said there is also the chance the photographs could be placed online, which would make them available to anyone.

The committee also intends to ask commissioners to approve installing new flooring at four of the five 911 dispatching centers. A rubber floor was installed in February at the dispatching center in the county sheriff's office for $4,622, and Emmons is recommending they do the same with the other four dispatching centers based on how that has worked out.

The other dispatching centers are located in the police departments in Columbiana, East Liverpool, East Palestine and Salem.

Also during the meeting, Commissioner Mike Halleck asked if the firefighters in attendance had any comment, and Jeremiah Coles from the Highlandtown Fire Department said they are still having problems with the dispatchers handling their calls, but not the 911 system itself. The sheriff's department provides dispatching services for the fire department.

Coles also said the volunteer fire departments would also prefer to have one central dispatch center handling all calls instead of five, but Halleck said that is unlikely to occur because of the cost.



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