When Gwinnett County, Georgia, upgraded to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) call handling, E911 Center operations immediately improved. Tony Parrott explores the new efficiencies.
Until recently, the team at the Gwinnett County Police Department’s E911 Center in Georgia was using an end-of-life legacy system to manage the one million 9-1-1 calls the Center receives each year. Today, the team is processing calls faster and more efficiently with our Guardian 9-1-1 Call Handling solution. Shortly after the upgrade was complete, we talked to the Gwinnett County team to learn more about the improvements they’ve been able to make.
First, a bit of background. Gwinnett County is located about 30 miles northeast of Atlanta, Georgia, and is home to approximately 930,000 people. The Gwinnett County Police Department’s E911 Center is the primary public safety answering point (PSAP) in the county with 26 call taker positions. The Center handles all 9-1-1 calls in the county for all emergency services — police, fire, animal welfare, and emergency medical teams — transferring calls to police departments in the municipalities of Norcross, Lawrenceville, Snellville, Suwanee, and Duluth for dispatch as needed.
Seamless Call Transfers
The ability to seamlessly transfer 9-1-1 calls to other municipalities with the press of a button is one of the first improvements that Major Lara Bardugon, Gwinnett County E911 Center communications manager, noticed. “We had an antiquated, analog call handling system, but the municipalities in the county had already upgraded to the Solacom system,” she says. “That meant we had to come up with a lot of workarounds to transfer calls. Now we are all on the same IP-based Solacom system and we have one-button call transfer capabilities, so our folks are really happy.”
Michelle Harrington, communications shift supervisor at the Gwinnett County E911 Center, expands on the benefits for call takers. “They’re no longer hunting for different transfer buttons based on the line the call came in on. We can have as many speed dial buttons as we need, and they’re searchable. The entire call transfer process is much more streamlined than it was previously.”
A Customized and Intuitive User Interface
The ability to customize the user interface of the call handling solution has simplified the transition to NG9-1-1 call handling and allowed call takers to work at optimal efficiency. “We were able to customize the graphical user interface for our agency so it was very familiar to our people and it looked like a system they could easily navigate and intuitively understand,” says Harrington. “I was here on cutover day and everyone was able to transition to the new system very quickly and smoothly.”
Real-Time Visibility Into Call Taker Activities
Previously, the Gwinnett County team relied on an outdated, one-line totals board for information about call taker activities. To find out what individual call takers were doing, supervisors had to leave their desks and walk over to their position.
With the upgraded call handling solution, supervisors can now simply glance at the 80-inch televisions that are mounted around the center to get real-time insight into the activities underway at every call taker position. “With the color-coded information on the screens, it’s very easy for everyone to see the activity at each call taker position — who is logged in, who is ready to accept a call, who is on a 9-1-1 call, and who is on an admin call,” explains Major Bardugon.
A Path for Ongoing Evolution
As the team at the Gwinnett County E911 Center continues to evolve to NG9-1-1, Major Bardugon and Michelle Harrington say one of the first priorities will be to support text-to-911 calls. With Guardian Text, call takers will be able to respond quickly and easily to all text-to-911 messages directly from their call management screens. “We’re taking a phased approach to NG9-1-1,” says Major Bardugon. “Everybody is getting really comfortable with the new system, so we’ll be adding text-to-911 this year.”
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