Frustration In Three Views Of New World Dispatch System

June 16, 2016

Everett, Everett Government

frustration

Emergency dispatching in Everett is experiencing serious frustration

Seven and a half months in from go-live for the New World dispatch system and frustration seems to be the only common theme. MyEverettNews.com has been writing about the implementation of New World Systems dispatch software for more than a year. Work on the system to replace aging dispatching equipment and software has been going on since 2009. Today. Lots of frustration and little agreement.

On Wednesday, Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson sent a letter to Craig Bickley, Vice President, New World Systems in which he expressed his concern about the pattern of issues with the deployment of the New World System. In part the Mayor wrote…“I am concerned that the lack of a consistently reliable system is leaving our crews and residents vulnerable to serious risks.” Another excerpt…“The primary purpose of this system is to keep our community safe by dispatching emergency responders in a timely and efficient manner. The New World System has failed to do that on a number of occasions, and that is simply unacceptable.” Here is the full text of the letter sent by the Mayor…

06.15.16 Ltr to Craig Bickley, New Wordl System (1)

frustration

SNOPAC handles dispatching for Everett Police and Fire.

Another group of folks expressing frustration is the SNOPAC Board of Directors. They meet on the third Thursday of each month and today MyEverettNews.com sat in on their meeting. (The meetings are open to the public, other than when they are in executive session) When it came time to discuss New World on the agenda the board received a report from Executive Director Kurt Mills on the steps taken to fix a glitch during the June 4th 3-Alarm fire in Everett where there was trouble toning out a 2nd and 3rd alarm. After his report Mills expressed frustration that people aren’t talking about all of the good things that happen now that New World software is in use. That frustration was echoed by board members who mentioned the new ability for fire to be able to see what is happening with police calls while they are staging. Everett Fire Chief Murray Gordon noted he has been telling people it takes time to get seasoned. The previous system was in use for 25 years so there’s going to be time needed for people to adjust. The board extended an invitation to area media, including MyEverettNews.com to come sit down next to both police and fire dispatchers to get a first hand look at the New World System. MyEverettNews.com hopes to do exactly that within the next week.

Finally a third look at frustration comes from dispatchers of the system as shown in this comment shared with MyEverettNews.com after we posted this story.

Comment:
Mr. Mills,

Are you kidding?! Who do you think you are fooling?

According to Snopac’s website, “SNOPAC’s Core Values of Integrity, Respect, Professionalism and Teamwork are the standards we follow each and every day.”

Let’s break this down.

In the memo drafted by Snopac’s Operations Specialist, Karl Christian, he states, “It is my observation from the events that occurred, the dispatchers became singularly focused on the issue with the Upgrade button, and did not seize the opportunity to troubleshoot anything other than retrying the recommendation again several times.” He goes on to state, “immediate additional training for the dispatchers” was going to be delivered, supporting his initial blame on the dispatcher. How can this statement be misinterpreted? The statement was written with purpose and intent to solely place blame on the shoulders of the employees who were working this fire on June 4, and to detract from the software failure of New World.

In your backpedaling statement to Mr. Dart, that you interrupted your conference for, you state, “This was a New World System bug … This was not a dispatch error or a training issue.” If this is the case, then why was there “training” issued by your Office of Training and Professional Standards on Thursday that makes an example of the employees involved in this call? Have you seen it? I’m guessing not. It accuses them of not mentally processing or actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion for the problem. In other words, they did not use their “critical thinking” skills. Really? Have you ever been present on the dispatch floor when there is an active fire such as the one on June 4th? It is anything but dispatchers not being actively engaged. How does making your employees an example, especially when the problem was not their fault, support your Core Values?

You go on to further say that you did not expect the press to see the memo. I’ll go out on a limb and guess you weren’t planning on your dispatchers reading the memo that throws them under the bus either. Sir, you are a public servant. You are a fool if you don’t think that any document that is subject to the Public Information Act does not have the potential to make it to the media. But that brings up another question, what would you have changed in the statement? Were the statements intended to mislead the Everett Fire Department? It should have only contained honest and accurate facts. Why would you sacrifice your people in an effort to save face for a software company who has not delivered an acceptable product? In your words, “the expectation of the public to receive effective and efficient emergency services is higher than ever”. How are you achieving this expectation if you are producing documents with misleading information and throwing your people under the bus? Does continuing to support a software system full of bugs meet this expectation?

As Mr. Christian investigated issues with this fire, were any other factors taken into consideration as he formed his observations that the dispatchers “did not seize the opportunity to troubleshoot the problem”? Mr. Christian had the benefit to work on the problem in his cozy little office, on a sleepy Sunday morning, with no interruptions, no radio traffic, and no incoming 9-1-1 calls that the dispatchers are now required to take during active radio events, and no other demands that diverted his attention that the dispatchers would be juggling during events like this in order to troubleshoot the problem. The employees had seconds to minutes to troubleshoot the problem in a demanding environment. Mr. Christian had two days in his cozy little office to figure out the problem. Bully for him! Does this mean that dispatchers are now required to work out of classification and troubleshoot software and IT issues?

You paid Dr. Kimberly Miller, an organizational psychologist, a lot of money to deliver training that focused on closing the relationship “gap” between your dispatch floor and management. In one sentence delivered by management, any work that was accomplished from her training has been completely blown out of the water. I’m curious, when the decision was made to the throw your dispatchers under the bus, what Core Value(s) were you striving to meet? Was it Integrity? Respect? Professionalism? Or was it Teamwork?

Sir, the ship has hit the iceberg and is now sinking. As you, the Captain of the ship, and your Leadership Team abandon ship, you have left your employees to drown. As any Coast Guard member, or former member knows, a Captain who has abandoned their ship before everyone is off has committed a grievous act. You should know better! You and your Leadership Team have failed your employees during a time when they need you the most. What actions, not words, are you going to take to rebuild the trust between you and your employees that has been violated?

To you and to the all the leaders of the fire, police, and 9-1-1 centers in Snohomish County, it is time to put aside your political reasons and concerns and take a stand. You are the ones who have the power to decide that this emergency service software is unacceptable. The decision does not solely lie on the shoulders of the dispatch organization; it is a decision that every single organization involved with New World is responsible for making. This system has cost the organizations and the Snohomish County community a lot of money and manpower, and it continues to be a money drainer. By luck, nobody was injured or killed in this 3-alarm fire. We are only one call away before the failures of this software system causes a problem so severe that it results in the injury and or death of a first responder or citizen of Snohomish County. At what point is it OK that a life is expendable in order to save face and support this albatross of a system? And if that is the case, which firefighter, police officer, or citizen’s life is expendable? What dispatcher will you sacrifice in order to find a place to lay your blame for the injury or death of someone? I think we all deserve an answer to this question.

Now, back to those Core Values…

MyEverettNews.com will continue to follow the implementation of the New World System and other issues including hardware and connectivity problems that have been hampering smooth dispatch of first responders in Everett to emergencies. Feel free to pass along your observations in our comment section or you can contact us via email at News@MyEverettNews.com.

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About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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13 Responses to “Frustration In Three Views Of New World Dispatch System”

  1. Bourne Says:

    Follow the money.

  2. Kathy Christian Says:

    To those who do not know I am the sister of the man so many of you internet trolls are bashing. I work with New World too, and yeah, I’m not fan. But I’m not going on public internet sites or to the Everett Herald to denigrate and name-call someone who was simply doing his job by writing a report for his superior. I’m thoroughly disgusted with my co-workers, past and present, who would do this. Shame on you for going public with something that is best left for us to deal with internally.

    • Anon_FF Says:

      The problem is that it’s not being dealt with internally. As a first responder saddled with having to use New World, every time I come to work there are errors with the system. It shuts down by itself, it can’t upgrade alarms, every single day it dispatches the wrong units to the wrong locations. Furthermore, the policies at SNOPAC mean that there are less dispatchers doing more work, so frequently i can’t get a reply on the radio from anyone because they are task saturated. This includes situations where I might need some immediate help right away.

      While the software is a huge problem, the much bigger problem is that we have a group of decision makers that would choose this sortware, even after knowing it wouldn’t work correctly (because of NORCOM’s experience). On top of that, these guys push down the issues to the workers instead of taking reaponsibility for these poor choices. And as a cherry on top, spend huge amounts of our budgets not just for this software, but in soft costs too. Maybe they spent 6M on the contract, but think how many agencies had one or more people dedicated full time for years to get this semi-running. The price tag is many times that.

      I understand your frustration with seeing your brothers name on the web in this way. I do not know who he is or what he has or hasn’t done. But in a bigger sense, the top folks continue to shove this broken product down our throat, and for what reason I don’t know, I do know that I’m far less safe now with a broken dispatch system and less attention from the dispatchers than I have ever been in my career.

  3. finnegan Says:

    How in bloody hell does that brown nosing, sniveling little backstabbing gossip named Karl STILL have a job? Which leads to the question, who in their right mind but someone who values brown nosing and gossip would promote such a creature to begin with? It certainly wasn’t skill.

    Sack all the jackasses. Unplug New World. Save yourselves .

    • Kathy Christian Says:

      whoever you are, if we are co-workers, it’s best we never speak of this.

  4. Accountability Says:

    The capabilities are not the issue. The usability is. All the bells and whistles are worthless if basic job functions are a struggle to accomplish. People who aren’t day to day users under true conditions are clueless.

  5. DispatchershateNWS Says:

    When are they going to wake up? The beatings will continue until moral improves! Nobody in Dispatch respects the top 3. If this was Nam they would have been flagged!They always blame the dispatchers! The Board needs to grow a pair and get rid of Mills, Dittoe, and Christian now!

  6. OnTheLine Says:

    And with that Mr Bourne, you’ve found the flaw in the SNOPAC system… there is no one on the board of directors who was elected, and has to answer directly to the public. It’s made up of the chiefs who helped pick this POS and they have no interest in exposing their role to the public. They’ve circled the wagons, and blame virtually everything but themselves. No one will get fired.

    That fire in Everett was just the latest in a long line of failures, but it was so big it’s impossible to hide reality this time. Finally it broke past the chiefs and a Mayor took notice. Hopefully the other electeds in the county sit up and do the same as the Mayor of Everett.

    • Mike N Says:

      Wait until they have a breakdown where someone actually dies. It’s just a matter of time. Then you’ll see some world-class finger pointing.

  7. Bourne Says:

    Do you know what would be real news? When someone in county government gets fired for being either corrupt, inept, or lazy. That would be real news. This back and forth finger pointing is just noise as far as I’m concerned.

    • Ray Says:

      Accountability is reserved for the taxpaying civilian only. Welcome to Washington State.

  8. OnTheLine Says:

    To the dispatcher who wrote that letter: Thank you.

    Street cops and firefighters know NWS is not your fault, and that this software is flawed at its foundation. There were signs that could have been read back when SNOPAC and SNOCOM were shopping for software that NWS was a troubled product, yet somehow NWS convinced them that the programmers of POLICE software could quickly create fire software and they bought it anyway. That is most likely why it is worse for fire. The root of the problem was back in the selection process. But now we are $Millions and $Millions into this.

    Kurt Mills you’ve been caught by your own staff in a lie… and an abhorrent one at that. You were willing to publicly toss your employees to the wolves when the software you chose still doesn’t work after six damn years. It’s time for you to resign sir. You have lost the moral authority to lead and the only hope of restoring SNOPAC to the highly efficient and effective force it once was is to replace its leadership.

    Your software has left people’s lives hanging on many occasions now, both citizens AND responders. It is only by chance that someone hasn’t died while your service was failing them.

    As for the other “benefits”, like improved awareness with law enforcement, they are pale in comparison to the loss of reliability our responders and citizens deserve.

    It will cost a lot of money, and some people their reputations, but this software has to go. Hopefully prospective NWS customers will read these articles and run that company out of business. (If you are reading this as a prospective customer, DO NOT BUY!!! RUN, do not WALK to the EXIT)