All Eyes on Iowa Next Generation 9-1-1 Shared Services

Hard to believe we recently (December) hit the four-year mark since Zetron first announced the award of a contract with the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (IDHSEM) to provide statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 shared technology services. At the time, statewide contracts weren’t necessarily typical, and shared public safety technology services models were even less common.

It was a pretty big deal. Not just for Zetron, and not just in the Hawkeye state.

When I joined Zetron in May of 2018, the ink on the Iowa contract was practically still wet. Zetron, RACOM (Zetron’s implementation and services partner on the contract locally in Iowa), and the IDHSEM were still very much in the planning phase of initial PSAP deployments. And what I kept hearing, both inside and outside of Zetron, was, “All eyes are on Iowa.”

What I would soon come to find out was “all eyes on Iowa” meant something different internal to Zetron than it did in the market at large. Inside Zetron, what it meant was simple; this is an important initiative and making it successful is a company-wide commitment.

But externally, what “all eyes on Iowa” meant was more like, “this raises a lot of questions.”

  • Would a statewide shared services model work financially?
  • Could the technology flex and scale to meet the expansive network aspirations?
  • Would individual PSAPs buy in?
  • How would the shared technologies integrate with the existing PSAP infrastructures and tools already in place at the local level?
  • Would it be more disruptive than beneficial at the local PSAP level?

Lots and lots of questions.

As such, many Iowa PSAPs were understandably reluctant to clamor to the line to sign up when the contract was first announced. But as curiosity turned to interest, and interest turned to early adopters, Iowa shared services deployments began late in 2018. And since then, what’s been delivered (other than a lot more deployments) is a lot of questions answered

With the anniversary of the December 4, 2017 contract award announcement, there are now (as of the date this post is publishing) 38 Iowa county PSAPs fully installed and deployed on the IDHSEM Next Gen 9-1-1 shared services contract, and another 26 have since signed and are in the process of having their implementations scheduled.

They say bad news travels fast, but sometimes the same can be said for the good stuff too. Recently the IDHSEM and communications professionals from PSAPs that have deployed their new systems under the state contract were asked to talk a bit about the benefits of the statewide contract and how it’s working out.

If you prefer video over text, read no further, check out the brief (3 minutes) video capturing sentiments conveyed here. But if reading is more your thing, let’s cover some highlights:

  • The statewide contract was carefully researched and crafted in order to make enhanced next gen 9-1-1 technology available to every county and community in Iowa. Rural or urban, large or small, densely populated or no.
  • Sharing technology infrastructure across the network enables PSAPs to save money and reallocate funding at the local level.
  • The shared services contract ensures all PSAPs on the contract always have the latest and greatest versions of software, without having to expend large amounts of money on an annual basis.
  • The technology provided through the contract is scalable, easily expandable with additional optional applications and services, and integrates with other existing systems, such as CAD.
  • The Zetron next gen 9-1-1 systems offer the best user experience at the operator level in the market. Iowa 9-1-1 operators are using the new systems seamlessly, enjoying a user experience that’s intuitive, easy, and that saves them time.
  • 24×7 centralized monitoring assures reliability. The systems simply have to work, always. PSAPs don’t have to worry if the software is functioning.

“The shared services really provide 9-1-1 answering points the reliability, the ease of use, and the financial incentive to bring their center into next generation 9-1-1.”

– Blake Derouchey, Iowa 9-1-1 Program Manager

“It’s met every one of the needs and expectations that we have. It couldn’t come more highly recommended from us. That’s for sure.”

– Andy Buffington, Hancock County Emergency Manager

Seriously, you should check out the video.

If all eyes truly have been on Iowa, so far there’s a lot of great reasons to like what they’re seeing. Over the first four years of the next gen 9-1-1 shared services program, Zetron has been tremendously proud, honored, and deeply committed to delivering time, cost, and life saving solutions to the state of Iowa and are looking forward to continuing to expand on what’s been a great start.

Zetron didn’t make the video, but we’re certainly humbled and gratified to see the impacts of the great partnership that’s been forged with the IDHSEM and the difference it’s making in communities all across Iowa.

By: Jim Shulkin

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