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Cassidian Installs VESTA/Sentinel 4 Call Taking System in Seven PA Counties

Date: 2013-06-21
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Cassidian Communications, an EADS North America company, has completed installation of its VESTA®/Sentinel® 4 Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) call taking system for seven of the nine counties in the northern tier of Pennsylvania.

The new NG9-1-1 system makes it possible for all nine counties to be part of a single regional network – the first in the state – designed to reduce costs and improve survivability for their Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). The Northern Tier Regional Telecommunications Project, encompassing the counties of Clearfield, Jefferson, Elk, Cameron, McKean, Clarion, Warren, Crawford and Forest, complies with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency guidelines for 9-1-1 infrastructure.

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“By combining resources, we have created the path forward to increase the protection of our communities and have realized a significant cost savings,” said Mike McAllister, Elk County Office of Emergency Services director. “We project our upfront cost savings to be about $1.8 million and our annual maintenance savings to exceed $200,000.”

The design of the Northern Tier Regional Telecommunications Project includes two-host sites. With a Cassidian Communications’ geo-diverse VESTA®/Sentinel® 4 NG9-1-1 call taking system at its core, each host is capable of running the entire network in the event of the other’s unavailability. Each county is connected to each of the hosts via diverse and redundant fiber paths.

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“When we first met with the northern tier counties in 2011, we recommended they explore the feasibility of a regional NG9-1-1 capable telephony project,” said Michael McGrady, President of MCM Consulting Group, Inc., which spearheaded the public safety communications project. “We believed such a design would not only improve their operational efficiency and increase the survivability of their critical networks, but also significantly reduce their capital, annual main-tenance and network costs.”

These factors are now being realized as key benefits by the seven counties that have success-fully cut over the VESTA®/Sentinel® 4 NG9-1-1 call taking system inside their PSAPs. The two remaining counties will soon follow suit.

McAllister says the concept of a regionalized 9-1-1 system appeared a bit overwhelming at first, especially since all 9-1-1 systems were working as individual silos. The PSAPs were not interconnected or capable of NG9-1-1, nor could they transfer 9-1-1 calls between counties with automatic location identification or automatic number identification. Redundancy was also a major concern.

 “What is most important to me about our regional system is that we now have backup in the event we must evacuate our 9-1-1 center,” said Tracy Zents, Jefferson County Department of Emergency Services director. “With this design now in place, the other counties in the system can pick up our 9-1-1 calls within seconds.”

In addition to its new NG9-1-1 communications capabilities, counties within the northern tier are now capable of providing transport and connectivity for other systems such as computer-aided dispatch, graphical information systems, interoperable radio and emergency management, as well as interfacing with a statewide emergency services IP network (ESInet).

McAllister says they are getting inquiries from other counties that may be interested in joining.

For more information, see: www.CassidianCommunications.com

- Corporate News/9-1-1magazine.com (via Cassidian Communications, 6/19/13)

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