Frustration In Three Views Of New World Dispatch System

June 16, 2016

Everett, Everett Government


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. 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)


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 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 to come sit down next to both police and fire dispatchers to get a first hand look at the New World System. 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 after we posted this story.

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… 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


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