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Brown County’s new computer dispatch system successfully replaces failed one

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 5:18 PM CST
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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - It’s all systems go, much to the relief of Brown County first responders and dispatchers.

Nearly two years ago, Action 2 News first told you about major problems when the county tried switching to a new computer dispatch system, causing delays and potential safety concerns for police and firefighters.

RELATED: Police fear new computer dispatch system is putting lives at risk

The new replacement system, online and live for less than a week, appears to be much improved.

When police officers and firefighters across Brown County are dispatched to an emergency from inside the 911 center, the information they need is still right at their fingertips, and the people who need the help are getting it just as fast as they always have.

That means the county’s new computer-aided dispatch system, called Flex, is working like it should.

That’s a huge relief to Public Safety Communications Director Cullen Peltier.

“It’s definitely going better than than our last upgrade, and hopefully we can continue that through until we are back to normal, so to speak,” says Peltier.

In January of 2019, we showed you the problems police and firefighters encountered with the old system, called XCAD, where a map showed a fire engine in the Greenland Sea, north of Iceland.

RELATED: Brown County rolls back to 18-year-old emergency dispatch system

Simple traffic stops took 30 minutes for officers to write tickets, and yet other officers worried about their safety, telling us they weren’t consistently getting wanted records or criminal histories of people they encountered.

Those mounting troubles prompted the county to quickly scrap that XCAD system, reverting to the 18-year old aging software they had been getting by with, while staff at the dispatch center, along with 19 fire departments and more than a half dozen law enforcement agencies, built an intricate, detailed new system, call by call.

“We have to build all those recommendations for every type of call that there is. So for a fire department, we’re building it for a CO call. We’re building it for a structure fire. We’re building all the different calls in there, and that’s all done manually. What agencies, what rigs will go for what agency, for what type of call,” explains Peltier.

Last week Tuesday, first responders across the county held a collective breath when it went live, but Peltier says they only experienced very minor, easy to fix issues, like adding different maps and learning new codes, all things to which everyone in the system is quickly adjusting.

“There’s a learning curve,” he says. “And we’ve we’ve tried to mirror the old system as much as possible for ease, but there are some definite differences. It’s really working together, and I think the agencies have done a really good job of that.”

Peltier says the county did not end up paying the full price for the failed system, so this new one did not come at an additional cost to taxpayers.

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