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Comm center working on new offices
January 17, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
The process has been long, but the Scotts Bluff County Communications Center will be in their entirely new offices within the next few months.

Ray Richards, the center’s director, spoke Wednesday to the Gering Business Club about providing the best quality emergency communications in an environment where technology is changing rapidly.

“The center as it is now will be 26 years old in April,” Richards said. “We started with a couple of typewriters and an amazingly fast 486 computer. Then came the basic 911 service we got in about 1986. As the technology improved, enhanced 911 service came next and provided more information on the calls coming in.”

The next phase was upgrading the technology to handle wireless communications from cell phone, mobile devices and similar devices.

“The infrastructure in the new comm center is being built to be ready to handle the next new technology comes along,” Richards said. “That will enable us to receive text messages and video. Right now, our only communications are audio.”

Richards said that with new technology come new management issues and guidelines on how the data can be handled from a government standpoint.

Another function that will be handled through the comm center is the national warning system for severe weather. “Our primary contact is the National Weather Service office in Cheyenne,” Richards said.

He added the center is headed more toward “interoperability” where people in the field have more options to report emergencies. “Any time, anywhere, any device” is how he described it.

Richards described some of the new technologies he saw at a recent show that will soon be available. They run from a contact lens that acts as a computer screen to a phone that can be implanted in a tooth, like a filling.

“Technology is going at light speed and it’s expensive when it first comes out,” he said. “I have to select things I believe we can benefit from. I don’t need to be the first one on the block to have the latest gadget.”

He said a device that will capture and store all incoming communications, whether text, audio or video was priced last year at just over $100,000. Today, as the county needs to upgrade their old capture system, this new device has come down in price to $28,000.

Richards said they will announce an open house to introduce the new comm center to the public in the near future.
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