MOON TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — When US Airways built a call center in Moon Township, it was a state-of-the-art facility. But for the last five years, after the airline pulled out of the area, the building has been vacant.
The Allegheny County Airport Authority bought it, and now will be leasing the space back to the county’s Emergency Services.
Emergency Services Chief Matt Brown is looking forward to the move.
“A lot of our existing equipment, at our current location, is at an ‘end of life,’ either the technology is no longer supported or there are no parts to support the technology,” said Chief Brown.
The new center will be state-of-the-art, and since the building was already a call center, the transformation process will be a lot easier. But, how do you move a 911 system that handles 1.5 million calls a year.
“We don’t have the luxury of putting up a closed sign. We have to make sure we don’t fail, and we don’t miss a call during this transition,” Said Chief Brown.
Construction on the building will begin in early 2018 – that’s phase one. Phase 2, getting the center up and running, will happen in early 2019.
But not everyone will move there at once. The 911 operators are divided into zones, and that’s how they will move into the new facility.
Chief Brown says they’ve handled transitions like this before.
“We’re well practiced in the ability to transition one seat at a time, one zone at a time, confirming that we have no missed incidents or calls and to bring that complete operation to a full change over,” he said.
The biggest challenge in a move like this is not missing a call. No power drops for servers, back-up servers and new technology that will allow 911 to pinpoint where a cell phone call is coming from, down to what floor in the building.
And, according to the chief, there is no room for error.
“We’ve got to make sure this room runs without fail. Uninterrupted power supplies are extremely critical for 911 operations. That little power blip that you may get at your home or at work, would be deadly to us,” he said.
Work will begin on the new facility in 2018, and it’s expected all of the departments – 911, the fire marshal and the Fire Academy will be in the new location by 2019. The money is coming from a combination of sources – the county, the Airport Authority and special grant money.