West Chester Twp. trustees buying new emergency dispatch system

West Chester Twp. trustees approve almost $700,000 for new public safety dispatching system.
West Chester Twp. trustees approve almost $700,000 for new public safety dispatching system.

Credit: Nick Daggy

Credit: Nick Daggy

West Chester Twp. took a unique approach shopping for a new system for dispatching police and fire calls, shielding prices from reviewers to focus on quality. .

The trustees on Tuesday approved purchasing a $748,634 hardware and software public safety package from CentralSquare Technologies, LLC, including almost $80,000 if an optional on-site training is included. If they must rely on remote training the cost is $699,194 plus $82,025 annually for support services, starting in the second year. The support cost increases 5% a year.

Even though reviewers didn’t know the costs, they chose the least expensive option.

Dennis Dick, the township’s Communications Center operations manager, said officials started the process of replacing the 21-year-old system in 2016, hired a consultant in 2018 and went out for bids last year. Support for the current system will expire soon.

Dick told the Journal-News since it will take almost a year for the system to be installed and operational, and they are not certain if on-site training will be possible.

The Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system helps dictate the number police squads needed and which fire stations should respond to emergencies for the best response. It includes enhanced records management for first responders out in the field.

ExploreSeveral fire departments to purchase new radios after regional $2M grant request fails

The township received five proposals and pursued further conversations with four of the bidders, and those companies gave the evaluation team product demonstrations.

“Throughout this time the evaluation team was not aware of the cost. We had the RFP done specifically so that the cost was done separately as far as their proposals,” Dick said. “We wanted to hold that back, we didn’t want cost to sway or influence the decisions of the team, and the ratings of the team as to what software we felt would serve the public safety needs for the long term future.”

The team’s second choice had the highest price at $1.8 million including $171,024 annually for support. The last place vendor offered $866,951 with $145,341 annually for support. Dick said the pandemic hampered the team’s ability to do site visits to other dispatch centers that use these products, but were able to visit Lebanon, which uses the selected vendor.

The police and fire chiefs told the Journal-News the new system will enhance their operations. Police Chief Joel Herzog said the new system will allow his officers to remain on the patrol longer.

“Officers are not coming back to the station for specific things to enter in and they’re able to do everything from the field,” Herzog said. “So the officers are out on the street and able to clear calls quicker, making them more readily available to the public.”

Fire Chief Rick Prinz said the new software will allow for greater efficiencies and enhance mutual aid situations because it can “talk” to other dispatching entities.

“It will allow for a faster, more rapid dispatch even if it’s not a West Chester unit,” Prinz said. “So we are getting mutual aid must faster when we are busy, to allow for our residents not to endure prolonged response times.”

Dick said in all about 1,500 personnel hours were spent on the process and 27 people from the police, fire, dispatch and IT participated.

Trustee Ann Becker said she was very pleased with the “deep dive” into this system, that is crucial tp public safety.

“This is just integral to how our township functions,” she said. “To have a high-functioning system that will last for years and years and years and it was the cheapest, Dennis nice job.”