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City of New Britain 911 Center

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City of New Britain 911 Center
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The City of New Britain, Conn., is a forward-looking municipality in Hartford County that is dedicated to the well-being of its inhabitants and focused on growth and opportunity.

THE CHALLENGE

For any government, nothing can be more mission critical than ensuring the safety of its people. Several years ago, the City of New Britain took the opportunity to do just that through the construction of a new, police headquarters that would include a state-of-the-art emergency dispatch center. The new dispatch center would need to provide for the utmost efficiency, with equipment that is reliable and fault-tolerant. To keep pace with changes in telecommunications, and the increased sharing of video sources from security cameras and cell phones, the center would need enhanced capacity to support the evaluation and distribution of various forms of digital information to emergency personnel in the field.

Building the new dispatch center offered the option of installing a system with next-generation 9-1-1 technology, including the ability to instantaneously receive video footage from the scene of an incident and share it appropriately with emergency responders in the field. While the communications standards for this level of service have not been approved yet state-wide, the City of New Britain planned to be on the cutting edge of delivering the capability once it was approved. According to James P. Donnelly, Director, Public Safety Telecommunications Center for the City of New Britain, Conn., “When you’re responding to an incident, you want the best possible information for situational awareness available in the room where dispatch is occurring.” A key element of the dispatch system would be a way to call up and control that digital information -- including audio and video signals -- to assess the situation and determine what digital content should be sent to the field. Says Donnelly, “If you’re getting four or five or six people sending videos to 9-1-1-for the same event, you need a way to determine which ones are worth retransmitting out to the police officers or fire fighters or medics who are getting to the scene.”

THE SOLUTION

A project of this importance demanded the very latest technology and Donnelly took to the Internet to find what was needed. His search led to Thinklogical, located in nearby Milford, Conn. Thinklogical offers the high-capacity keyboard, video, and mouse (KVM) equipment that would be needed for command and control at each of eight operator positions in the new dispatch center. Representatives and engineers from Thinklogical were generous with their time and invited Donnelly and a colleague for multiple visits even before he considered purchasing the equipment.

A key selling point was the fact that Thinklogical does business with military organizations. Says Donnelly, “The requirements for the military are very specific and almost always include high availability, a feature that was very important to us.” Donnelly was also impressed that Thinklogical personnel showed keen interest in the application and an understanding of the project needs. He says, “The gear was really slick and the Thinklogical engineers really knew their stuff.” With loaner equipment from Thinklogical, the city had the KVM equipment tested for next-generation 9-1-1 capability at AT&T and it passed with flying colors.

The City of New Britain chose KVM equipment from Thinklogical to be part of its new state-of-the-art emergency dispatch center. In the new installation, the city streamlined the system, taking all PCs, workstations, and the computer dispatch system out of the actual dispatch center and placing them in a secure computer room. Separating the computers in that way lessens the need for ongoing maintenance and ensures that information can only be accessed with proper authorization.

The Thinklogical KVM equipment allows each agent at one of eight answering positions to call up the digital content that’s needed and view that information across six monitors. The city can switch the information from any dispatch position to another with a single keystroke. Donnelly says, “We can take dispatch position one and make it dispatch position seven, moving everything -- including radio and telephone -- at the same time all to the other position.”

The centerpiece of the installation is a video wall that’s 22’ wide by 9’ high, with twenty-one 54” monitors. The center can route any video to the wall and make the image whatever size is needed for review and analysis. Because the system is state-of-the-art, many visitors from other towns have come to tour the facility.

THE RESULT

Installation of the new dispatch center took only three days, over a period of time. A Thinklogical representative installed the KVM equipment easily in less than a day. Donnelly says, “We’re very happy working with Thinklogical. The personnel are very helpful -- especially the engineers. And the equipment is rock solid.” The transition for users at dispatch positions went well, with users acclimated to the system, and the underlying technology -- including the KVM routers -- invisible to the users. Donnelly says, “Like the saying goes, if the technology really works as it should, for the users it’s indistinguishable from magic.”

For the City of New Britain, Thinklogical’s KVM solution meets an essential need. While to date the next-generation 9-1-1 communications standards have not yet been approved statewide, the City of New Britain stands ready to deliver those additional services when it is.