Public safety vendor management has become increasingly challenging for agencies over time. It used to be much easier for public safety agencies to manage it’s vendors. A decade and a half ago, service agreements were simple and easy to understand, limited in scope, usually dealing on with device repair and some onsite technician support. And they generally only involved the radio, computer-aided dispatch (CAD), and 911 call-handling systems. Today, the typical agency is dealing with vendors of the following systems:
Today’s average public safety agency has more than 30 public safety vendor agreements to manage. Service and support is typically provided by impersonal network operations centers, help desks or service depots. Similarly, agreements have also become more difficult to understand, given their size and complexity. The result is often confusion and a disconnect between what the agency and the vendor are expecting from the relationship.
The approach to developing effective public safety vendor management agreements has at its core three fundamental, intertwined components. This whitepaper contains strategies to help agencies navigate the complexities associated with today’s increasingly complicated vendor environment. It provides tips for stronger vendor agreements in three key areas:
Navigating the vendor management process is challenging and unnerving. But strategies exist that will result in effective service and support agreements and enhanced ability of public safety agencies to hold vendors accountable to them.
mcpmanager March 20th, 2019
These are challenging times for public safety answering points (PSAPs). Many are dealing with funding shortfalls, others are wondering where they will find the money to implement Next Generation 911 (NG911) technology. Given this, it should come as no surprise that the PSAP operated by the Fort Myers Police Department in Florida has been dealing with a significant staffing shortage of its own. The PSAP operated by the police department in Fort Myers handles more than 200,000 emergency calls annually. Low employee morale and a high staff turnover rate were impacting the PSAP’s performance significantly and compounding existing 911 staffing issues. Other challenges they face included:
Fort Myers hired Mission Critical Partners (MCP) to assess the situation and make actionable recommendations to resolve the issues. Working together, MCP and Fort Myers took the following steps:
The comprehensive assessment and recommendations report delivered to Fort Myers Police Department paid immediate and impressive dividends to the Fort Myers Police Department.
“This will be the first time in a decade—easy—that all call-taker and dispatcher positions will be filled with fully trained personnel,” said William Musante, lieutenant with the Support Operations Section of the Fort Myers Police Department.
mcpmanager January 4th, 2019
Posted In: Facility & Operations Planning
“MCP helped us negotiate a very large vendor support agreement. They were thorough, professional and excellent to work with. Through their efforts, we experienced significant savings on our support, operational improvements and a stronger agreement than we started with.”
~Tracy Roberts, Radio System Manager, Cobb County Georgia
Looking to lower expenses without sacrificing support, Cobb County began exploring the possibilities of renegotiating their P25 radio maintenance agreement with the vendor. They wanted to better understand the services, terms and conditions, and the associated costs included. With limited knowledge of how their fees compared to similar sized systems in the public safety sector, they sought assurance they were paying a fair price for the support provided.
The County looked to Mission Critical Partners to provide vendor management and support services, and, together, the two organizations created a mutually-acceptable process for communication. Committed to finding cost-saving opportunities, the Cobb County–MCP team sought clarification from the P25 radio vendor on the proposal and its components. After conducting a fair market pricing assessment and completing a data-driven analysis, they outlined a negotiation plan that included more favorable cost targets, enhanced required system performance reports and improved activity tracking.
Working together, the MCP and Cobb County team were able to make significant progress towards driving service excellent from Cobb’s radio maintenance vendor.
With their newly-negotiated savings, the County covered their MCP fee and had additional dollars they could allocate towards other improvements. They plan to continue their work with MCP building a strategic technology roadmap that will help them better plan for future system upgrade investments.
mcpmanager November 6th, 2018
“With MCP’s co-managed 911 network support platform, we gained 24/7 visibility into our 911 environment through one, simple-to-use platform that is scalable to our needs. This is crucial, because we can’t protect what we can’t see.”
Matt Rechkemmer, E911 Program Manager, Lee County Florida Department of Public Safety
Maintaining network up time during large-scale disasters like Irma and during normal operations was top of mind for Lee County officials. Despite several 911 vendors providing 911 network monitoring services, Lee County officials weren’t satisfied with the level of service they were receiving. They sought greater clarity on network activity, more customization (instead of an off-the-shelf solution), and a mechanism for identifying current and historic network activities.
To address these challenges, Lee County relies on several co-managed information technology (IT) solutions from MCP that provide enhanced visibility into the organization’s network health and activity. First, MCP completed a dynamic network discovery of the call-handling network to map how it was configured and to identify the systems that compromise it. Then they worked with MCP to build a custom monitoring profile that would provide a secure, real-time view of the ongoing health of the county’s network and a means to measure bandwidth and utilization of each system, device and circuit.
This information is available to Lee County via an online dashboard that is custom-designed and branded for Lee County.
The MCP monitoring solution and dashboard help Lee County see only what matters across its 911 network and expeditiously respond and correct issues that could impact network performance. County officials have gained control over the network and have enhanced real-time visibility that enables them to resolve critical device and circuit issues before disruptions occur.
mcpmanager November 6th, 2018
Posted In: Lifecycle Management Services
“MCP has played a key role helping us meet our project goals by managing multiple vendors on our behalf—holding them accountable for meeting project milestones, managing project risks and ensuring they meet schedule deadlines and requirements,”
Butler County, PA
As a county that requires reliable mission-critical communications for 60 first responder agencies, it is important that Butler County’s land mobile radio system—and the network supporting it—is available whenever and wherever it needs to be. Their system faces several challenges playing a role in its replacement:
Working alongside Mission Critical Partners’ land mobile radio experts, Butler County developed a roadmap to replace their land mobile radio system with one that would meet their needs today and well into the future. MCP completed a detailed assessment that presented several options, complete with pros and cons of each solution. MCP helped Butler County evaluate every alternative on the table and make an educated decision about a solution that would address the County’s challenges and limit the need for future upgrades.
Butler County then turned to MCP to assist with procurement and implementation of the new P25 land mobile radio system.
With MCP’s negotiation support, the County’s selected solution included an impressive 43 percent cost savings off of list price, with an additional savings estimated at upwards of $350K to be achieved through sharing systems with nearby regional partners.
mcpmanager September 13th, 2018
Portable radio operating on land mobile radio (LMR) systems have been the essential method of push-to-talk (PTT) voice communications relied upon by law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. These robust networks and devices have evolved to provide a single primary application—exceptional push-to-talk voice communications for first responders.
In recent years, however, a challenge has appeared—push-to-talk over cellular (PTTOC) and mission-critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) technology. PTTOC and MCPTT services are provisioned over broadband wireless services and replicate the walkie-talkie functionality of traditional LMR portable radios. Technology differences include:
mcpmanager June 1st, 2018
Public safety agencies are implementing Internet Protocol (IP)-based, broadband systems, called next generation 911 (NG911), that will enable communications simply not possible with legacy narrowband 911 systems. While the impacts of this transition will improve the way in which emergency response is delivered, public 911 network management becomes considerably more complicated after an NG911 system has been implemented.
Change 1: Management of, and accountability for, a NG911 system will be owned by the 911 authority instead of the telco.
Change 2: The PSAP bears responsibility for maintaining the accuracy of its GIS data and its compliance with NENA’s NG911 standards.
Change 3: NG911 environments are far more susceptible to cyber attacks from inside and outside the PSAP.
This whitepaper from Mission Critical Partners discusses the steps 911 authorities and their PSAPs need to take to watch over their systems in a next-generation environment, and how much more effort and expertise is required to keep NG911 networks and systems stable, performing as designed, and secure.
mcpmanager May 1st, 2018
Posted In: Lifecycle Management Services
“With MCP’s help, we’ve identified the issues and challenges that stand between us and a successful regionalization effort. Now that we know it could work for us, we need to determine how we make it a reality and execute on that plan.”
Emergency Communications Project Coordinator
Imperial County Communication Authority, Imperial County, California
Imperial Valley, California, is served by four public safety answering points (PSAPs) that provide call-taking and dispatching services for the Imperial Valley. The Imperial Valley Communications Authority (IVECA), in conjunction with the San Diego County Regional Communications System , provides public safety voice and data communications to more than 200 local, state and federal agencies in San Diego and Imperial counties.
The County’s PSAPs were already sharing technology resources, but wanted to figure out if sharing services also made sense in terms of staffing and maintenance costs.
MCP teamed with IVECA to conduct a feasibility study that laid the groundwork for MCP’s recommendations and an initial plan for moving forward with regionalizing the County’s PSAPs, and produced a report for IVECA that outlined:
MCP delivered the report to the IVECA executive board in April 2017 that identified the issues and challenges that stand between the IVECA and a successful regionalization effort, helping demonstrate to the organization a methodical approach for moving forward with PSAP regionalization in order to accomplish operational and staffing efficiencies, and ultimately, reduce costs.
mcpmanager April 23rd, 2018
The city of San Franscisco Department of Emergency Management (DEM) sought a robust, modern call-handling system that would support its 42 call-taking positions. A second requirement was a path to a National Emergency Number Association (NENA) i3-compliant system and meeting public safety standards for performance and reliability. They looked for a partner that could provide guidance defining requirements, as well as during the procurement and implementation process.
The San Francisco DEM partnered with Mission Critical Partners to provide technology procurement guidance and implementation support. MCP helped San Francisco build a strong foundation of requirements before issuing a request for proposal (RFP) by extensively engaging a large team of stakeholders to define what was most desirable from a new system.
“MCP’s guidance during the procurement stage was invaluable. Their familiarity working with 911 call-handling system vendors and their knowledge of the newest technology and vendors available played an essential role helping us feel more comfortable with the requirements-gathering and RFP process,” said Jun Chen, PMO manager, city and county of San Francisco.
MCP helped the agency build a strong RFP that included use cases, detailed specifications and stakeholder input, and led them through the RFP process. Once the new call-handling system was selected, the team completed a vigorous testing process as well as implementation support in the form of support and oversight during the cut-over process. In the meantime, the agency’s leadership was empowered to stay focused on maintaining their daily operations while MCP ensured a seamless procurement and implementation process.
The San Francisco DEM cut-over to the new call-handling system in November 2016, and since them, has witnessed improved 911 call-answering times. While this cannot be directly attributed to the new system, it’s a contributing factor. MCP played a key role in helping them define a sound strategy and a strategic vision for deploying a call-handling solution that builds a strong foundation for transitioning to Next Generation 911.
mcpmanager April 13th, 2018
The public safety sector and emergency communications has reached an inflection point. Technology has evolved dramatically, and the needs and expectations of the public served by PSAPs have evolved as well. Data has overtaken voice in terms of importance. As a result, PSAPs need systems that are capable of leveraging the enormous amount of data is that already available, yet inaccessible today. Legacy call-handling equipment equipment that has existed for the last 50 years needs to be replaced with new equipment capable of processing calls and data originating from digital, Internet-Protocol (IP)-based devices.
This whitepaper explores the factors driving the need for PSAP evolution, and provides insights into how to accomplish it. Some of the driving factors of the emergency communications system’s evolution includes:
To learn more about what’s required to evolve the emergency communications system, PSAPs and telecommunicators will need to look and behave very differently than they do today.
mcpmanager April 9th, 2018