Scotts Bluff County Commissioners approve additions to users of system used by public safety entities

Scotts Bluff County 911 Communications Director Ray Richards, left, and Ben Backus, Communications Advisory Board Chairman, were at Monday's county commissioners meeting to request four additional software licenses. The licenses will give local fire departments access to the county's data recording system.

Scotts Bluff County Commissioners approved a request from the county’s 911 Communications Center to add four additional licenses to its records management system.

Zuercher, the software system rolled out by the county in October 2018, allows all county law enforcement officers and first responders to access a common database for records on calls for assistance and investigations.

The system has been so successful; agencies that didn’t sign on to the original launch have asked to be included, giving them access from mobile data terminals. Included in the request are two additional licenses for the Gering Fire Department, and one each for the Mitchell and Morrill Fire Departments.

“There will be some added expense in adding four more licenses,” Ben Backus, communication advisory board Chairman and a Gering city council member, said. “There’s no point in having the system unless agencies use it. If they want to join on, they’re certainly welcome. If a department isn’t on the system, they’re kind of out of the loop for a lot of records.”

Backus said the approximate $2,000 each for new licenses will fit in with the communications budget, as every municipality contributes to the agency’s operational costs.

The current cost of the entire Zuercher system is around $82,000 a year. Once other service contracts are added in, the total cost is about $102,000 a year.

County 911 Communications Director Ray Richards told commissioners the licenses allows agencies to install mobile data terminals into their patrol cars and fire trucks, log into the Zuercher system and do work while away from the station house.

“The reports they generate from the scene are logged into other servers so the data can be shared with the state and other agencies,” Richards said. “A detailed report is generated on what equipment was used, how long they were on the scene and how many personnel were dispatched, damage amounts and more.”

Because the report is generated at the time of the incident, a log is available for the state when applying for grant funding from the federal government.

“Zuercher is also an excellent tool for city councils and village boards, giving them a breakdown of calls their emergency responders handled,” Richards said. “Each agency is purchasing their own terminals and the advisory board is helping with the software and licensing costs.”

Richards said the cost for licenses is being covered by the sinking fund established by the communications advisory board to pay for both hardware and software expenditures.

County commissioners also used its first meeting of the year for any structural reorganization. Because of scheduling conflicts, only a few changes were made to which boards commissioners serve on.

Ken Meyer was unanimously reappointed as county board chairman and Glenn Schleve as vice chairman. All appointed county officials were also reappointed to their positions.

jpurvis@starherald.com

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Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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