Madison County Dispatch Center prepares for upgrade

VIRGINIA CITY – Madison County communications employees are making preparations to relocate the 911 Communications Center, a major move that will equip dispatch officers with new, state-of-the-art equipment in a bigger, more secure incident command facility.

The move from the lower level of the Madison County Courthouse to the new location at Placer Loop between Nevada and Virginia Cities is set for June 14. Steve DiGiovanna, Madison County Communications Coordinator and Deputy Director of Emergency Management, said the switch from the previous 190 square foot dispatch center to the new 1,200 square foot facility is a huge benefit to the dispatch officers, first responders and the rest of the community.

“From fiber optics going back to the court house to UHF and VHF radio connectivity to the towers, it’s a giant undertaking,” DiGiovanna said of the move. “There are so many things we are doing that are an improvement.”

The process of moving the communications center is nearly as complex as the network of phones, radios and computerized information systems that go along with the job, he said. But it’s all equipment “that law enforcement needs desperately.”

The move was necessitated by safety concerns about outdated equipment and problems with old wiring in the historic courthouse building. For example, the analog phone system in the dispatch office was more than 20 years old, and simply didn’t perform well enough, DiGiovanna said.

“We’ve bought all new computers and changed everything out so that they run, they don’t overheat anymore,” he continued. “They’ll function well with the programs that we have.”

The new communications center is equipped with the Patriot phone system, which is designed to support the ever-changing technology and standards for critical communications systems. The system also allows for physical distribution of critical infrastructure and personnel for maximum protection against natural disasters in addition to a number of other benefits.

DiGiovanna said moving that level of technology from point A to point B and making sure all the connections still work is slightly more complicated than moving stuff out of a house or garage.

“It’s been a lot of planning, a lot of coordination and it’s going to come to fruition in less than 10 days,” he said, adding that the biggest improvements will be to the survivability, functionality and staffing of the incident command facility.

DiGiovanna said that while most communications centers of this kind can cost anywhere from $5 million to $ 20 million, the Madison County Communications Department has spent a little more than $100,000 through their budget for this project.

Sheriff Dave Schenk commended DiGiovanna for making the coordinating the move and other improvements to the new facility.

“The reason for the cost savings is because some people had the foresight to know how to put it together and do a lot of research,” he said.

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