Everett To Stick With Problematic Emergency Dispatch System

SNOPAC 911 dispatch

SNOPAC handles dispatching for Everett Police and Fire along with several other agencies in Snohomish County.

On Thursday, MyEverettNews.com revealed ongoing problems with a new dispatch system being implemented in Everett and all of Snohomish County. The system, referred to as New World has experienced multiple crashes, slowdowns and problems since its implementation in 2015. The City of Everett is one of several agencies that contracts with SNOPAC for dispatch services. In 2014 Everett paid $2,730,648.00 for police and fire dispatch services. In 2015 the bill was $2,812,630.00 and in 2016 Everett will pay $2,881,144.00. In spite of those costs, in an email providing MyEverettNews.com error logs and messages about the system over the last three months, Everett City Public Information Director Meghan Pembroke says the city is still committed to the New World System…

In response to your questions, I am providing some background on Everett’s experience with the New World System (NWS) since its launch. SNOPAC manages NWS and is the best organization to respond to questions about the system as a whole and how it is operating. The City has no plans to pull out of the SNOPAC system at this time and is not planning any legal action against SNOPAC or NWS.

As with any major system change – particularly one that involves multiple agencies – we expected to encounter challenges as we adapt to the new system and begin implementing it in real-world situations. We have been in daily communication with SNOPAC during these first several months of operation. SNOPAC has been very receptive to our concerns and has been actively working with NWS to identify and resolve issues as they arise.

We know that our citizens depend on us to respond in a timely manner when they are experiencing an emergency. Emergency responders, including those on the dispatch side, take that responsibility very seriously, and it is understandable that there have been frustrations as we adapt to the new system and deal with challenges along the way. We will continue to work with SNOPAC to identify and resolve problems, to ensure that the NWS is working reliably and efficiently.

NORCOM, which handles dispatch services for Eastside cities such as Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, etc. terminated a contract with New World Systems after having problems trying to implement a new computer aided dispatch system in 2008. Here’s a letter sent to Everett Fire, SNOCOM and SNOPAC after the three agencies toured NorCom last month. (Click link below to read the letter.)

Norcom April 8th letter

In addition, documents provided to MyEverettNews.com show that Everett Police have apparently also had recent concerns including an incident where it took five minutes to dispatch a bank robbery in south Everett. In an April 25th email between Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman and SNOPAC director Kurt Mills, Templeman wrote in part…

I am trying to stay more on top of New World issues as they arise in an effort to determine whether they are fact or fiction. I know that you confirmed that the negative call response times was a New World issue that is being addressed. I wanted to let you know that just Friday we received a request for police call response times that we will likely be responding back that we do not possess, nor can we calculate the requested data.

On another note, I heard that last Thursday there was a New World glitch during an armed robbery (bank) in which the call was “lost” off the screen and resulted in a delayed dispatching of the event. I had my crime analyst pull the call, which showed a 5 minute delay between the call being received and dispatched. I cannot tell from the call log whether or not the delay was due to a technical issue or a dispatch issue.

Is there any way you or your staff can look into these two items? I have heard (but never had the call information to back it up) that calls are “lost” regularly in New World. I have never brought it to you because I have never had specifics, only rumor. I am hoping that you will be able to put my mind at ease that this is in fact not occurring, and that I can report that back to my staff when I hear them bring it up.

MyEverettNews.com has a focus on Everett but this dispatch issue also has reportedly concerned other law enforcement and firefighting jurisdictions in Snohomish County. It is our understanding that other media outlets are looking into issues across Snohomish County as well as at the jail.

One of the frequent answers on the error log for Everett Fire calls is that poor cell connections have led mobile data terminals to freeze up. The term most often cited in the logs is, “Connectivity remains the choke point for in-field performance of NWS.” The obvious concern is that during a major event cell phone towers will be overwhelmed with traffic as people try to connect with family members or report incidents to 9-1-1. That added burden on the cell towers doesn’t seem to bode well for the current reliability of the system.

SNOPAC Director Mills has been very open to talking with MyEverettNews.com about the issues and we’ll be meeting with him later this week to get further information as we get a closer look at this issue. MyEverettNews.com has also received feedback from others concerned about the reliability of the system. If you have input, feel free to note your comments in the “Leave A Reply” section below or send an email to news@myeverettnews.com.


About My Everett News Staff

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring news and events in Everett, Washington. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett.

View all posts by My Everett News Staff