In a recent article from the Daily Bee regarding the future of a regional 9-1-1 operations, my opponent for Bonner County Commissioner is quoted as saying, “We’re just starting the conversation. We’ve got a year to figure this out.”
My opponent does not seem to be talking to his own staff. Conversations on regionalizing 9-1-1 operations have been on-going for more than two years. According to former Bonner County Technology Director, Bill Harp, in early 2016 he authored and won a grant that funded a critical startup component in 9-1-1 regionalization. Due to inaction by Commissioners, the $127,000.00 grant has not been executed, and the County may likely have to return the funds to the state in a couple of months.
The grant supported creating a multi-jurisdictional, shared GIS (the maps critical for pinpointing emergency locations) in collaboration with north Idaho jurisdictions: Bonner, Boundary, Benewah, Kootenai and Shoshone counties along with the cities of CDA and Post Falls. This showcase project would have served as a template for Idaho on the first wise steps for integrating regional 9-1-1 capability. Regional collaboration saves counties lots of money and it saves lives by supporting fast, cooperative emergency responses.
Bill Harp said in 2016 to the Idaho Geospatial Council that everyone, “regardless of their position in the decision matrix,” needs to begin educating themselves about integrating the next generation of 9-1-1. I couldn’t agree more. Cities, counties and public safety officials need to collaborate on designing the best practices to manage regional 9-1-1 operations.
Sheriff Daryl Wheeler supported the project. Our current Commission dropped the ball on a fair amount of planning and the GIS project. As a result, a funding opportunity for a ground-breaking project is in danger of being lost.
I spent my career managing telecommunication infrastructure in the technology industry. I started out climbing poles and ended up delivering high quality service at far lower than average cost for AT&T as Operations Manager for Oregon.
It is unacceptable that these critical projects for public safety have been ignored. 9-1-1 technologies are complex, and being a rural area adds variables to the mix. Regionalizing key 9-1-1 operations will not be accomplished in one year. Five years would be a more realistic timeline.
Also, I would not recommend changing the funding strategy for 9-1-1 by additionally charging other local jurisdictions for services, as my opponent has suggested doing. If I am elected this fall, you will see attention to these issues and strong collaboration on behalf of local and regional public safety.
Steve Lockwood, Sandpoint