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Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Mercer County to install tracking for 911 cell calls

By William Kincaid
Mercer County emergency dispatchers should be able to locate 911 callers using cell phones in the next four to six months, as a new software mapping program is to be installed soon.
Mercer County commissioners approved a $175,000 agreement with Digital Data Technologies on Tuesday to provide a countywide 911 wireless-based response system.
The mapping program, which Mercer County 911 Administrator Monte Diegel said is incredibly complex, consists of software that uses the county's existing aerial photography and cell phone towers to triangulate the location of a cell phone caller. Whether standing in the middle of a field or sitting inside a structure, the program can locate callers with an accuracy of 95 percent, he said.
Mercer County officials will meet with the company soon to coordinate the extensive project that will take between four and six months to install.
Company vans will collect data and electronically lay millions of GPS points on almost every square inch of county land - including alleys and other thoroughfares - for about 40 to 50 days, from dusk till dawn.
"We're going to notify the public," Diegel said about the project and its eventual progression. "These trucks look pretty strange - I'm sure people will look at them."
Various satellite receiver sites also will be installed around the county to coordinate the signals, he said.
The mapping project is a state initiative between the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Geographically Referenced Program, Diegel said. Ultimately, officials want a statewide collection of 911 mapping location data.
The county currently has about $271,000 in available funding, including $93,000 in state grants and $178,000 in a local cellular fund. Since August 2005, the cellular fund has been collecting 32 cents a month from each cell phone user with a zip code number based in Mercer County, Diegel said.
In other news, commissioners also approved a $12,286 agreement with CMI for new sanitary sewer billing and collection software.
Commissioner Jerry Laffin said sewer billing that used to be processed in the Mercer County Courthouse - with an outdated software system - will now revert to the sanitary department in the Central Service Building.
CMI submitted the second highest bid at $12,286. Software Solutions Inc. provided a $12,973 quote and Government Accounting Solutions had the low bid of $7,200.
"We did not accept the low bid," Laffin said, pointing out the more expensive CMI package was chosen because it is compatible with the auditor's current software.
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