Ways To Fix 911 To Boost Safety, Save Money



Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan


I have written previously on BrowardBeat regarding our ability to improve public safety by consolidating 911 communications.  With the cooperation and consensus recommendation of a diverse group of public safety professionals, city managers, and elected officials, we are closer than ever to initiating the most significant improvement to public safety in decades — something that has been already accomplished by others around the country.

Why should you care?

In 2008, a terrifying fact was finally discussed: the highest call volume 911 dispatch centers were not even rated beyond “category 2” for hurricanes.  Some were within a mile or so of the ocean.

More concerning today, a 911 call for help, whether from a child’s bedroom or a kitchen, is far more likely to be made by cell phone rather than from a land line.  However, that call may not even go to a 911 center that can send help.

This reality, known as “misdirected” calls, results from the technology involving cell phone towers.  Routing of those 911 calls is pre-programmed.  It is estimated that 5-10 percent or more of 911 calls are “mis-directed”.  Each year, that means tens of thousands of emergency calls have to be re-routed.  .

Because the centers don’t “talk” to each regarding the data gathered, the process after the call is re-routed starts essentially all over again, resulting in a delayed response.  Consolidating 911 centers will minimize or eliminate this unnecessary delay for a substantial number of 911 calls.

In addition, because 911 technology is constantly evolving, having 10 separate centers, running independently with differing operating procedures and widely varying tolerance for the financial consequences of upgrades, fails to deliver the best and most efficient public safety service possible.


Hard Work Rewarded

The 22 members of the BCCCC were chosen in cooperation with Fire Chiefs Association of Broward County, Broward County Chiefs of Police Association, Public Safety Committee of the Broward League of Cities, Broward City/County Management Association, Fire-Rescue Services Council, Board of Directors of the Broward League of Cities and Broward County Board of Commissioners.  After analyzing a 2010 comprehensive feasibility study, many of these groups passed resolutions in support of 911 consolidation.

Beginning in early November 2011, the BCCCC and Sub-Committees met more than 20 times, dedicating over 300 Committee-person hours to meetings and analysis. Evidence was gathered from current dispatch centers and individual cities, case studies of successful communication consolidation models from the United States were examined, and funding analysis county-wide was performed.  Ultimately, the Committee reached consensus: we must consolidate our 911 Communications to improve public safety.


County and Cities Must Move Forward With Deliberate Speed


The recommendation of the BCCCC is to consolidate the 10 current centers into 3 hardened facilities; we have such facilities to choose from without having to build new centers. The recommended governance structure would have every participating municipality on a governing board.  Unifying the structure and operations will standardize the 911 performance across the county.

BCCCC estimated consolidation could save, without even considering the capital and expected technology upgrade savings in the future, $100,000,000 in operational costs over the next decade.

The next step is for the Broward County Commission and the Broward League of Cities to work together to form of an Implementation Board. The recommendation is to have city managers from each interested cities and the County, with necessary assistance from public safety experts, shepherd this process through the final steps.

All residents and visitors are entitled to the best public safety service possible.  Our County government, cities, elected officials, and public safety experts must work together.  If we fail, then there will be real consequences.   However, if we work together, we can improve public safety, achieve greater efficiency, and potentially save real taxpayers’ dollars.   The time to answer the call for 911 consolidation is now!

BCCCC was co-chaired by Broward County Commissioner Lois Wexler and Mayor Mike Ryan.  Meeting notices, agendas, minutes, other information and the Final Report of the BCCCC are maintained on the Fire Chiefs Association of Broward County web site here or the City of Sunrise here.

15 Responses to “Ways To Fix 911 To Boost Safety, Save Money”

  1. Taxpayer says:

    In 2008, a terrifying fact was finally discussed: the highest call volume 911 dispatch centers were not even rated beyond “category 2” for hurricanes. Some were within a mile or so of the ocean.

    C’mon guys…….the Florida Building Code requires all emergency ops since the 2004-2005 hurricane events to be housed in buildings designed to withstand Cat 5 winds (remember the Polk County Public Safety Bldg almost brand new that was destroyed in 2004 Charlie?).
    this isn’t news just a convenient way to defend new taxpayer funded emergency ops/public safety bldgs around the county.
    Even if shovel in the ground tomorrow its 2 years to completion for most, and the A/E teams won’t get the sophisticated communications requirements right the first time (i.e. more tax payer funded Change Orders similar to BC Courthouse a/c system!!)
    Sounds like we need to find some revenue. Any ideas?
    Coconut Creek broke ground last month – move in date late 2013 if all goes according to plan.
    meanwhile all taxpayers from cities needing BSO dispatch have a line item tax milage coming in November.
    Bussy please follow up as I understand the milage varies between municipalities.

  2. Richard J Kaplan says:

    While there was a lot of good work and positive recommendations we can agree upon, I was made aware that not all recommendations were unanimous.

    Where I have a problem is that opposing views that were not allowed to be published. The report appears to convey that everyone was in agreement on all matters and I understand that was not correct.

    Sometimes minority opinions may have validity that should be discussed, and I would have appreciated hearing other views that could expose concerns that could have been addressed now rather than later.

    I would hope that this would be brought out in the future.

  3. Richard J Kaplan says:

    Sorry, I should have added that I wanted to compliment the Board and its Chairman for its valuable work.

  4. John Fusaro says:

    There is no reason the 911 dispatch can’t be consolidated into one location with an additional location for backup. The City Of Sunrise already has such a building in place and ready to go. The County taxpayers have spoken. Their will should have been implemented long ago.

  5. John Q. Public says:

    This is another example of the Broward County Commission not doing its $100,000-a-year job.
    It has been 10 years since the people spoke and said they wanted a combined 911 system. The commissioners have done nothing.
    Shame on Ilene Lieberman, John Rodstrom, Sue Gunzburger who have been on the commission since the vote of the people.
    Lois Wexler finally did something to get this going. Let’s see if it is ever implemented.

  6. Mocking the jocking says:

    Mayor Ryan you have represented John MacNamara and your city manager Bruce Moeller very well .See guys some dreams do come true.

    John Fusaro stay on this wagon they sure will all get you elected. This should benifit the city of sunrise nicely ? These commssioners are all about CONTROL.

    Mayor Kaplan I’m confused not allowed to be published ? How can that be its public information ? Is there no documentation ?

  7. Taxpayer says:

    ft ldle pays over 400k a month now for 911. not surprised at tug of war over dispatch duties – watch for major mergers into BSO coming in a few years.

    correct that voters approved over 10 years ago and many dropped the ball. this could have been planned for.

  8. Another 911 Problem says:

    Some households don’t have either land lines or cell phones, only internet service in conjunction with Skype, Talkatone or similar VOIP software.

    Those households can’t call 911 at all, and the Police Department’s non-emergency number isn’t always answered (in Sunrise, for example, the non-emergency line’s hours are only Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.).

  9. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    The solution here is quite simple. Ft.Lau get off your ass(and other cities to), throw Lamserti to the curb(throw Adderly in there to) and buy our own 911 dispatch. This whole idea that we all share in th e cost, is simply going to get mis directed, to many cities to keep an eye on. Again each City have there own 911 system. Can’t get any worse than what we have now. And Lamberti not only did you cause the proplems(tension) you are the proplem.

  10. Richard J Kaplan says:

    To Mocking the jocking, they issued the following:

    Broward County Consolidated
    Communications Committee
    Report and Recommendations
    for Cooperative Consolidation of E-911 Communications
    In Broward County, Florida
    March 7, 2012
    Executive Summary

    It was 7 pages (including cover and members) and did not include minutes. It was emailed to me.

  11. Reality says:

    Many, many years ago the same argument was made about police dispatch communications. The County, as always, screwed it up. Hence, the cities pulled out for the safety of their citizens.

    Now, they say the same about 911 calls. “Give it to the County,” they say. The ever-corrupt County Commission will screw it up too, and the cities will have to pull out…again…for the good of their citizens.

    Nothing created by a committee of competing interests works. As the old saying goes, a camel is a horse put together by a committee.

    Can we improve on what we have? Probably, through technology or interdepartmental cooperation and communication. Is putting it in the hands of the inept and corrupt County the answer…no.

  12. Mike Ryan says:

    To my colleague Mayor Kaplan,

    As someone who attended the Committee and all all Sub-Committee meetings, this Report and the supporting recommendations represent the overwhelming consensus of the body. The Committee was made up of public safety professionals, city managers, and electeds. I am not sure what has motivated your criticism of the process or the Report, but I feel I must, since there was an enormous amount of work, debate, analysis and input by all, respond.

    This process has been a long time in coming. Consolidation of 911 communications is a public safety improvement that is far from novel. In my personal opinion (and the opinion of others), taken public safety improvement has taken far too long to get this point, but I also understand sometimes these issues require the pressure of current conditions and improvement of technology to motivate us to do what needs to be done. There has been a decade of analysis. The consequences are real in terms of safety, and economics.

    The suggestion that minority opinions were not discussed or fully debated is simply inaccurate. Further, the statement that singular or minority views were not permitted to be published or somehow were intentionally left out of the report, is also unfair. Every word in the lengthy Report, Executive Summary, Fact Sheet/FAQ (and the Sub-Committee reports) was submitted to the Committee for review and edit. In fact, the drafts of each report of the Sub-Committees and the full Committee were circulated and wording of each was the subject of full debate and input by the entire Committee. The full Committee approved the wording by consensus.

    The meetings were open and noticed by the Broward League of Cities. The documents were regularly posted on-line after meetings, including the minutes of Committee and Sub-Committee meetings (which were approved by the members). There were often a number of attendees at meetings equal to (or in excess of) the number of Committee or Sub-Commtitee members. You were welcome to attend any of the meetings or emphasize particular views, or have the Lauderhill representative offer those views (which he did).

    It is true, with 22 members and the diversity of interests, it would not be possible to have unanimity on every detail. There is much work to be done and many issues to be worked through as stakeholders emphasize their particular interests and concerns.

    While there were minority opinions that did not come close to representing the consensus of the Committee, the vast majority of the ideas and recommendations in the report do represent unanimity.

    Lauderhill had a representative on the Committee. The minutes were provided to the Committee members and were posted on line before the final Report was even issued.. The minutes are also included in the Appendix, which has been put on-line and which you should have been provided the link (also included in this article). The only exception was the final meeting, which is being posted upon completion of those minutes. Nonetheless, Lauderhill’s representative at the meeting has copies of every document produced.

    Finally, let me say that it was one of my mayoral colleagues (who has been very vocal on these issues over the years and who was not shy about presenting views) who said it best — we need to set aside purely parochial interests and do what needs to be done for all the residents and visitors to Broward County. The stakes are too high and the concept of consolidated 911 communications is no longer a debatable idea. To be sure, the mechanics of how to get this done in the fairest and most economical manner will be subject to debate.

    However, the overwhelming consensus of the Police Chiefs Association, the Fire Chiefs Association, the City/County Management Association, the Broward League of Cities Public Safety Committee, the Broward League of Cities Board, the Fire-Rescue Services Council and now the Broward County Consolidated Communications Committee is that consolidation of 911 communications is feasible, will improve public safety, will eliminate unnecessary redundancy and delays, and conserve taxpayer resources. Of course, this does not mean the process will reach the ultimate goal of cooperative consolidation. It can still be derailed or fail. Some may choose to not participate will be provided the opportunity to justify that position to their constituents.

    If you feel there are documents that you need to review that you have not been able to pull from the Fire Chiefs Association website or the links provided (or which Lauderhill’s representative does not have), email me and we will make sure to provide you a copy of whatever you need. Alternatively, I am sure you can also obtain copies through the Broward League of Cities.

  13. Richard J. Kaplan says:


    Actually I understand that I will be informed on some of the issues not in agreement and that is what I will be addressing. It wasn’t that minority opinions weren’t discussed or debated. They just weren’t reported in the released report.

    Foremost, you are correct that most everything was agreed upon, and I compliment you on the work of the committee. Please don’t take them as criticism, but more of comment for future discussions. There were a few points which I understand that were not in agreement and I wanted to understand better why.

    I may disagree with these minority opinions, or not. I just wanted to know what they were.

  14. vivi says:

    Mayor Mike Ryan is doiing a good job to communicate with other Mayors to get results.

  15. sidelines says:

    Talk tonight at joint FLL CC abd Budget Advisory Board meeting on suing BSO/BCC for the $5million or so a year this is costing. Seems its unfair FLL pays and other municipalities do not……
    Is this correct? Or is FLL CC misinformed?