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Indiana Improves 911 Wireless Caller Communication Between Counties

All 92 Indiana counties will soon be able to transfer voice and data information from 911 wireless calls across county lines.

Between 70 to 80 percent of 911 calls in Indiana come from wireless devices, said Barry Ritter, executive director of Indiana’s Wireless 911 Advisory Board. Previously, some counties would not be able to pass key information along to the appropriate jurisdiction once a county line was crossed, he said. The new agreement with AT&T changes that.

“As someone is traveling from one jurisdiction and goes into another, it gives the 911 operator the opportunity to transfer that call to the appropriate jurisdiction,” he said.

This will allow the appropriate jurisdictions to have access to location information as well as communicate directly with that caller. Dispatchers can then request the closest appropriate services.

AT&T was the last wireless company to enter into agreement, connecting its service with 40 county 911 systems. Around 50 counties with other service providers have already been connected. This will benefit areas like Clark County, as callers move between counties, said Ritter.

“It really becomes important down in your area where you have I-65 running and the county needs to have the ability to transfer a call into the Louisville Metro area because the 911 caller is headed south on 65,” Ritter said.

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MetroSafe Chief: Tornado Warning Error Was Avoidable

Louisville Metro Government officials say they’ll issue a report later this week on why emergency sirens weren’t activated during a tornado warning Monday morning.

MetroSafe Director Doug Hamilton says there was confusion among emergency management supervisors who, “overly relied” on a National Weather Service radio system that issued the warning. The warning was not picked up by MetroSafe and as a result no sirens were sounded.

“Clearly an avoidable error on our part, but we appreciate the opportunity to look at the technology, the processes and the people, all of which worked together for us to have successfully sounded the sirens in this community for many, many years. But we acknowledge it may be a process that may not work for us in the future,” he said at a Wednesday news conference.

Hamilton says MetroSafe will review its procedures and insure that there’s a backup source of information for warnings and other advisories.

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MetroCall Moves to MetroSafe Backup Call Center

MetroCall, Louisville’s 24-hour customer service line at 3-1-1, is in the process of moving its headquarters to the backup facility for MetroSafe, or 9-1-1

The MetroCall organization has recently been moved under the umbrella of Emergency Management and MetroSafe, says MetroSafe/EMA Director Doug Hamilton.

“Obviously, we’ve had three disasters in the last twelve months,” says Hamilton. “All of those disasters generate questions, concerns, comments and need to push information and we have always turned to MetroCall to do that for us. And they have done it quite well.”

He says MetroCall will now operate out of MetroSafe’s backup facility, and workers will be trained to run the 9-1-1 services in case of an emergency at the MetroSafe main location.

“Obviously, that period of time, 15-20 minutes it takes you to relocate is very critical,” says Hamilton, “because whatever issue may be affecting us could be affecting the community too.”

Hamilton says the action helps MetroSafe keep its backup equipment and facility in good condition in case of an emergency move. MetroCall won’t be working over the weekend, while systems are transferred to the new location.

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U-of-L Adds VoIP Phones to Classrooms

Some 200 classrooms at the University of Louisville are now outfitted with voice-over-internet-protocol – or VoIP – telephones. It’s an effort by the university’s emergency management department to be able to reach more people in the case of an on-campus emergency.

Director Dennis Sullivan says the VoIP phone system is routed through the internet, and is preferable in this situation to traditional phone systems.

“Just like an email or an instant message on a computer, where you can hit hundreds of computers all in a tenth of a second,” says Sullivan. “It’s the same as the voice-over-IP phones, we can send out an emergency messages and within two seconds, over ten-thousand phones have been activated and have the emergency message.”

Sullivan says the phone will have audible and visual signals relaying the message. He adds the phone messages are distributed through the internet, so the system wouldn’t work if the internet is down.

“That’s why we still use text messaging, we still use emails, we have outdoor warning sirens,” says Sullivan. “All of these are part of our system, so if we have a problem with one modality, we make sure we use more of the other multiple modalities that we have available to us.”

He says it’s a needed addition to the already existing email and text messaging systems, because many students have their cell phones off or on silent while they’re in class.

The wiring and installation of the phones cost about 150-thousand dollars.