South Dakota 911 Coordination Board tells administrator to look at paying more for new system

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The state 911 Coordination Board decided Wednesday to see how much additional improvements would cost as part of upgrading South Dakota’s emergency-contact system.

The new contractor, CenturyLink, is finishing its review at the physical sites of more than two dozen public-safety answering points spread throughout South Dakota.

The company found some PSAPs have technology units down on the floors rather than up on shelves, some lack backup power and some cables need replacements.

Maria King is state government’s interim 911 coordinator. She told board members that in the coming days CenturyLink would deliver a detailed analysis of the work stations and back rooms for the various sites.

“There’s a lot of things happening behind the scene,” King said about the project overall.

The board spent about 50 minutes in a closed executive session before she gave her public report.

King said personnel at each location have been typing data, such as names and contact information, into the new system. “It’s all manual entry the PSAPs need to do,” she said.

CenturyLink replaces NextGen Communications, Inc. when the current 911 contract expires in December. South Dakota is switching to an Internet-based system for transmitting data and communications. 

The state board approved the CenturyLink contract. It would be worth more than $34 million to the company over its potential 10-year lifetime, according to Jenna Howell, a lawyer for the state Department of Public Safety.

State government raises money for the emergency system through surcharges on various types of phone services.

Twenty-eight sets of communities and counties operate dispatch centers. There are also four tribal-based PSAPs.

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