Local dispatchers who handle emergency calls for wide rural swaths of the province will get a big upgrade to their mapping tools, after city council voted to spend more the $300,000 on a computer-aided dispatch system at Monday's meeting.
The upgrade was sole-sourced from Bell Canada and will expand capabilities that already exist in the city to rural areas.
Ross Robinson, the city's director of emergency communications, told councillors that the upgrade would be cost-shared equally from the police equipment reserve fund and the E-911 equipment reserve fund.
"This tool will be utilized by the 195 fire departments that we dispatch (and) used as we work with our five other police clients and the RCMP," Robinson said.
Currently, he said, some two-thirds of the emergency calls his department receives come from cell phones. While landline calls come into the system with a physical address for dispatchers to use, cell phones come instead with latitude and longitude information.
Dispatchers in the city can zero in on a cell phone location using digital maps, but rural calls from cell phones send them flipping through paper maps with hand-drawn boundaries, Robinson said.
The new system will bring a "significant number of efficiencies," he said.
The contract is valued at $312,791.04 plus GST and is expected to be up and running by March 2014.