And Speaking of Technology…..

Technology is great–except when it isn’t. 

Just as we were beginning to think that we could wind down a very busy day yesterday–Lt Hardesty appeared in my doorway reporting a very big problem:  the phone lines were down.  He thought we may have been hit by lightning just about 5 pm.  We discovered that our 911 lines and all 370 exchange lines were not working.  Never fear–our excellent team had already kicked into gear.  I was informed by Lt. Thom Hardesty and Sgt. Dave Amon that they had already switched the 911 lines over to Rochester PD and were in the process of sending one of our dispatchers over there to answer our calls.  As Police Service Officer Tom Tinari ran out to jump in a car, PSO Holly Harp was on her personal cell phone talking to AT& T 911 support to notify of our outage and request repair.  Fire Department had been notified and Lt., Hardesty had already sent out a NIXLE and TWITTER message to advise the public that our lines were down and giving a 364 exchange number (which were still working) to reach us if we were needed.  They had an operational plan to use the ALL DISPATCH talk group on the OakWIN radio system to have Rochester advise us of any calls for service so we could record CAD (computer aided dispatch) system information to dispatch our cars for service until PSO Tinari got back on line from Rochester. 

Shortly after PSO Tinari arrived in Rochester, he signed himself into his CAD identity on Rochester’s CLEMIS CAD so he could dispatch and enter data from there.  We had to call in an additional dispatcher for help anticipating increased activity from everything from traffic crashes to flooding reports.  Fortunately activity didn’t increase dramatically but stayed at a managble level.  Fortunately, since our experience in those types of weather related situation is that it can go from bad to much, much worse very quickly.

While Lt. Hardesty was in a headset at the radio console, Lt. Cas Miarka and Sgt. Amon were also working on a strategy to direct the investigation of a traffic crash that occurred much earlier that day with a driver who left the scene before police arrived.  Unfortunately that driver sought his own treatment and was found deceased by a family member at his home.  A sad situation and a complicated problem for investigators. 

By about 8:00 pm  the lines were back up and running.  We’ve had these outages many times over the years for a variety of problems.  If it is an isolated outage, we can manage with the assistance of our neighboring departments.  If it is more widespread we have to expand our planning to make sure we are still able to respond when you need us. 

if you are not following us on Twitter or NIXLE, you should be.  We give up to the minute information on situations like this, share information with the public about traffic conditions and crime scenarios. Both are free services for you and we do not keep records of subscribers–our mission is to get the information you need to you.  We’re expanding our social networking to better serve you in Twitter, NIXLE and shortly on Facebook.  If you tried us and didn’t find as much information as you wanted–give us another chance.  Our new Facebook page will be on line June 1st.  Check it out.

Sometimes the technology doesn’t work as well as we would like it too.  Sometimes it is the problem but at the same time it can also be the solution.  We are fortunate to be here in Oakland County where we have so much virtual consolidation of our technology and can support each other in some amazing ways.