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Harford County’s Dispatch Center Moves Into New Building

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One of Maryland’s largest counties has just moved its entire 911 dispatching center to a new location.


The Baltimore Sun┬áreports that on March 25th, Harford County’s Department of Emergency Services (DES) will move to a brand-new, 110,000 square-foot building right next to its previous building. Though the new building cost $40 million and was unveiled last November, it wasn’t fully operational until the 25th.


The move took considerable effort and planning on the part of the emergency services department, who had to physically move the center, install the center’s new voice over IT phone system as well as its new radio interoperability system without disrupting any 911 calls.


“There is always the possibility of glitches and hiccups and things like that…could cause problems,” said Edward Hopkins, the Director of DES, “so we are actually going to handle the move much like a disaster situation.”


Hopkins and his department planned on preventing dropped calls by transferring the new phone lines one at a time. On the off chance that a call gets misrouted, it will automatically be directed to another dispatch center outside of the county. Hopkins, though ultimately confident that it will not happen, remains cautious.


“I think the likelihood of us dropping the call, although it could happen, is very, very small,” he said. “I am concerned. This is a big move for us. We will have a lot of people working, monitoring phones, making sure nothing gets dropped….I am confident in my staff, that we have got everything covered, but I am concerned. We want to make sure we have everyone on board,” he said.


In addition to the new phone and radio systems, the building will also host Harford County’s Office of Information and Communication Technology. Moving from the county’s headquarters on Main Street during the following few weeks will save the taxpayers $46,000, according to an office press release.


Though the office is set to move, much of its equipment, including its servers and networking hardware, are already in the new building. Back-up generators will be installed to prevent any disruptions or loss of data.


Data loss by government and private organizations is a serious problem in the United States. About 70% of American businesses have experienced or are in high risk of experiencing data loss because of glitches, human error, system failure, malware, or physical damage to the hardware such as a fire or flood.

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