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January 14, 2010
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Intergraph to install new CAD system in Columbus

Major upgrades for Midwest metropolis' safety network

By Scott M. Bruner
PoliceOne Product Editor

When Columbus, Ohio, dispatchers watched in horror as their computer aided dispatch system (CAD) went down on New Year's Day 2010, because their system couldn't handle the numbers of the new decade, they knew it was time to upgrade.

Enter Intergraph Corporation, a 40-year-old, Alabama-based company that has provided CAD services, and geospatial mapping, to cities around the world. Their challenge was to deliver a new CAD system based on 21st century technology that would be able to serve Columbus' 755,000 residents without fear of crashes or meltdowns. It also needed to be able to provide information to responders that the current system could not.

Their answer was a $7.2 million combination of hardware, software, and training to meet the city's unique needs. The new CAD system begins installation on Feb. 1, with completion projected for the middle of 2011.

"The current system is outdated and old, the last update was in 2003 and it's no longer even serviced by the vendor. We’ve been working off a platform from 1991," Ramona Potts, assistant division administrator for Columbus' Department of Public Safety, said. "The Intergraph system is 21st technology. It's Web-based, user-friendly and includes the most up-to-date hardware."

Columbus' outdated system previously kept police officers, firefighters, and EMTs at a distinct disadvantage, needing to call through the radio system simply to access mapping and incident information. The new system will be able provide that information on the go. The map-driven system also allows dispatchers to know where responders are at all times.

"Officers, firefighters, and EMTs on the street are very excited to have more information at their fingertips," Potts said. "They’ll no longer have to call from their radio to find out critical information…we can’t wait to get our hands on it."

Intergraph's pedigree is impressive. In 1989, the company developed the first CAD system that used a map, and has since expanded into 27 countries, from locations as small as Vail, Colo. (pop. 5,000) to Mumbia, India (pop. 13 million). They are also the emergency dispatch providers to the nation's capital.

Intergraph's worldwide presence allows them to learn from innovative dispatch techniques from around the globe, such as community policing, and some of those will make it to Columbus. Another advantage of Intergraph’s CAD system will be the ability to routinely upgrade the system, a feature that Columbus' antiquated current system sorely lacks.

"Bigger cities need a 911 system to be able to adapt as the city's emergency needs change and evolve," Steve Marz, a vice president of public safety for Intergraph, said. "Intergraph has the largest global presence of any system in the world because our system has the flexibility to adapt and change to meet the daily needs of any emergency service."

Intergraph Corporation is a global provider of engineering and geospatial software that enables customers to visualize complex data. Businesses and governments in more than 60 countries use Intergraph's software applications. You can visit them at www.intergraph.com.

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