The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 30, 2007


Carlisle's 911 gets $225,000 update

The Carlisle Communications Department has undergone a major upgrade to the Enhanced 911 emergency response system, with the help of $225,000 in state funding. Public Safety Chief Dispatcher Mike Taplin says the new communications system has "greater capability and functionality." Carlisle is one of the last areas in the state to switch over to the new system.

With the previous Enhanced 911 system, the address of the caller was displayed in the dispatch center for calls placed from land-line phones. However, cell phone calls have been problematic because the location of the caller could not be determined.

GPS helps

As with the old system, when someone in Carlisle dials 911 on their cell phone, the call goes first to the State Police Headquarters in Framingham. State Police can see on their Global Positioning System (GPS) monitor where the caller is located and they then transfer the call to the local Carlisle dispatcher.

More detailed GPS information is now becoming available. Depending on the caller's cell phone and the service provider's capabilities, the caller's location can be displayed either as the location of the cell tower and the side of the tower handling the call (Phase 1 wireless), or the latitude and longitude of the cell phone (Phase 2 wireless). This data is graphically displayed on the new 911 equipment. For Phase 2 wireless, the position can be pinpointed to an area 300 yards in diameter or smaller, and can also be updated if the caller moves. This means, for example, that if the caller has a Phase 2 capable cell phone, locating someone with a medical emergency who just knows that they "are in the state park" should take less time.

Console has added capacity

Coinciding with the 911 system upgrade, the Communications Department, located in the Police Station, is replacing their outdated manual communications console with a computer-based console funded by $125,000 voted at Town Meeting last spring (see photo on page 15.) The present console and equipment were installed when the station was built 21 years ago, and are so technically out of date that Taplin says it may be impossible to find replacement parts.

The new console, which is being installed, will have added capacity. The console has two rows of four monitors and the capacity to run two separate response systems, an advantage in any emergency where many calls are being received at the same time.

Both Taplin and Police Chief Sulllivan say it has been a challenge to maintain services while the changes have been taking place, with two sets of furniture and two sets of equipment in one small crowded office.

The public is invited to view the communications area during the Police Station Open House from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 1.

[Ed note: Kathleen Coyle and Mike Taplin contributed to this article.]

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito