Final version both more positive, more specific about problems

The final version of the new report on Portland's replacement 9-1-1 dispatch system was influenced by feedback from city agencies involved in the implementation process.

Changes resulted in a much more positive explanation of the results. But the final report is also more specific about some of the ongoing problems with the system, especially those related to Portland Fire and Rescue.

The system is operated by the Bureau of Emergency Communications, which is overseen by Commissioner Amanda Fritz. It is technically called a Computer Assisted Dispatch system, or CAD for short. The replacement project was called CAD Next. It was completed last year.

Fritz's office released the final version of the report Tuesday afternoon. Titled CAD Next Lessons Learned, it mentioned earlier versions of the report that had prompted responses from BOEC, PP and R, the Portland Police Bureau and the City Attorney's Office. The report said the responses had resulted in some changes in the final version.

At the request of the Portland Tribune, Fritz's office released two earlier drafts on Wednesday morning. The first was dated Feb. 24, 2012. The second was dated March 14, 2012. The vast majority of the findings and recommendations are the same in all three report, with a few notable differences.

The biggest change is an expanded Executive Summary in the final version. Unlike the previous versions, it directly asks the question, 'Was CAD Next a Success?' The answer given in the report is, 'Yes,' because 'implementation was on time, within budget, and fulfilled the stated business and technical requirements.'

The expanded Executive Summary also cites the example of San Jose, Calif., where a replacement CAD system project resulted in a grand jury investigation into public safety problems, something that did not happen in Portland.'

But the changes in the final version of the report were not all positive about the replacement system. For example, one section expanded on problems being experienced by Portland Fire $ Rescue.

The first version says fire vehicles were unable to establish and maintain wireless connections between their mobile devices and the new system. The final version adds that information exchanges can now last between 15 seconds and several minutes, and that the problem has yet to be resolved.

Jim Forquer, president of the Portland Firefighters Association IAFF 43, tells the Portland Tribune the delay means crews are frequently dispatched on calls without knowing exactly what they are responding to.

'We know there is smoke coming from a house, but we don't know if it's a little smoke like something burning in a kitchen or a more serious house fire. Or we know there's a car accident, but we don't know if anyone's still trapped inside a vehicle who needs to be rescued,' says Forquer.

According to Forquer, the problem has persisted since the new system was activated. He has been told the cause has been identified and a fix is in the works, but may not be implemented throughout the bureau for a few moree weeks.

'It's very frustrating. New systems in other cities don't have these problems. Why isn't it working right in Portland?' Forquer asks.

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