The Lake County Council is poised today to vote on an E-911 consolidation plan that calls for a single call center. The council should approve this plan, and so should the municipalities that haven't done so already.
The interlocal agreement put in front of each municipality and the County Council represents a solid compromise that brings down initial costs while keeping with the goal of a single E-911 call center for the entire county.
It is important for the county and each municipality with its own dispatch service to sign the interlocal agreement quickly so progress can be made on implementation.
There is equipment to buy, install and program. Under this compromise agreement, each municipality will have to buy its own radio gear, over time, for police officers and firefighters. But the heart of the system must be up and running in time to meet the Dec. 31, 2014, deadline.
In Indiana, Lake County is the poster child for this consolidation. Nowhere else were there so many separate call centers to bring together.
There's a lot involved in E-911 consolidation, as the discussion at Wednesday's Lowell Town Council meeting showed.
Among them is the need to make sure everyone understands that some roads have multiple names. No matter what the official name is, callers and officers might use unofficial road names as well.
Dispatchers must become familiar with every part of the county, too, to know where streets stop and start, and where landmarks cited by panicked callers are.
And, of course, there is training on how to use the actual equipment, which might result in additional tweaks if flaws or weaknesses in the system are found.
Those and other details are included in the planning process. E-911 Director Brian Hitchcock has prior experience with consolidating E-911 operations.
But for right now, the focus must be on signing the interlocal agreements so the implementation can go forward.