Eleven firms via public safety data project

Eleven firms have responded to a request for proposal (RFP) to implement an Anoka County-wide project to update and integrate all public safety records and information systems.

The RFP was sent out after the Anoka County Joint Law Enforcement (JLEC) and the Anoka County Fire Protection Council (FPC) had conducted a needs assessment with the assistance of a California company, DELTAWRX, which was retained by the Anoka County Board to help prepare the assessment and the RFP documentation.

The JLEC and FPC have put in place a public safety data system committee to spearhead the project.

According to County Attorney Tony Palumbo, the project is designed to create a centralized public safety data system for county, law enforcement, community corrections and fire and rescue agencies.

Specifically, the county wants a system that would provide for a law enforcement management system, jail management system and a computer aided dispatch (CAD) and mobile application, Palumbo said.

The needs assessment looked at not only what information needs to be stored by each individual system, but also how these systems can communicate with each other and external sources, he said.

The goal is to have a comprehensive public safety information system that can be used across the board by law enforcement, fire, jail, dispatch and emergency preparedness agencies, Palumbo said.

The current public information systems in the county are fragmented with different systems being used by different public safety agencies within the county, according to materials provided by the JLEC and FPC.

For example, call records in the 911 dispatch center are not integrated with either police or fire records, while the countywide law enforcement records systems, at 12 years old, is at the end of its lifespan.

“The system can longer be supported,” Palumbo said.

In addition, the county’s jail records require detention deputies to handwrite data already entered into the police records system so that it can be re-keyed into the jail records system.

Each time data is transferred from one system to the next time is wasted and errors occur, the JLEC/FPC states in written information.

The proposed new system will be designed to reduce redundancies and errors, while improving efficiencies and security.

The requests for proposal responses are now being analyzed by an evaluation team, according to Palumbo.

“We asked the responders to the RFP to tell us how they can meet the specifications of creating the new public safety management system,” Palumbo said.

That includes a budget for the project, he said.

The Anoka County Board last month approved a contract with MACRO group totaling $37,400, with a change order allowance of $3,500, to provide technical assistance for the project.

According to Susan Vreeland, county director of information technology, during the RFP development process, it was determined that the proposal evaluation committee should investigate an information technology resource to assist in the review and evaluation process.

Under the contract, which runs through Sept. 30, MACRO will assist in the detailed analysis of all computing needs, requirements and business practices for the county’s public safety system functions as it relates to the proposals, Vreeland wrote in a memo to the county board’s Information Technology Committee, which recommended approval of the contract.

According to Palumbo, the evaluation team is expected to narrow the RFP responses to a handful of finalists.

At that point, the evaluation team would make site visits to view first-hand other projects of the finalists, Palumbo said.

“The goal is to have a contract for implementation of the project in place by the end of the year,” he said.

But the ultimate decision on the project will come from the Anoka County Board.

While the $140,000 cost of the DELTAWRX needs assessment contract came from a variety of sources, including forfeiture funds from both drug and non-drug cases, the joint law enforcement council, the fire protection council and a $40,000 federal homeland security grant that the council received from the state, Palumbo said the cost of implementing the project will be paid through a county capital improvement bond.

Special bonding authority of up to $8 million for this bond issue was given by the Minnesota Legislature in the 2011 session.

This was the method of funding that the county used for the 800 megahertz countywide radio system a decade ago, Palumbo said.

The cost of paying off the bond debt appears as a line item on the taxpayer’s annual property tax statement.

The 800 megahertz countywide radio system, project, which on a $200,000 home has cost some $7 a year, will be paid off this year.

Payment on these proposed new bonds, which have not yet been sold by the county, would not begin until 2013.

The cost will be less than for the $10.2 million in bonds sold for the 800 megahertz project, according to Palumbo.

The MACRO technical assistance contract will be paid for from the bond proceeds, Vreeland wrote in her memo.

Support for the project has come from the county’s 21 municipalities.

The Anoka County Joint Law Enforcement Council was created in 1970 to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement in the county. It comprises representatives from all law enforcement agencies in the county as well as city councils and the county board.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]