In the cyber domain, four years is a lifetime. In that time, Moore’s law tells us that computing power will double and then double again. And in the same time frame, cloud solutions for the storage of confidential government data have gone from a novelty (of suspect provenance) to a commonplace.

The story of that transformation – seen most clearly in the changing perspective on the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) – is the story about the successful integration of law and policy and effective advocacy by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). And therein hangs a tale.

In the early 1990s, the FBI began operating the CJIS – a network of data sharing arrangements that link almost all of the 18,000 police departments across the nation. But the information that the police share is highly sensitive and confidential. They have custody of vast amounts of personal, private information, and they are subject to intense external scrutiny. That means that the police must always be able audit exactly who has accessed their data, when, how, and for what purpose.

As a consequence, the FBI also developed a security policy that established guidelines for the creation, transmission, and storage of criminal justice information. Any police department that wanted access to shared data (which is pretty much everyone these days) had to conform to the minimum security standards set by the FBI.

And then along came the cloud. Little more than four years ago, police officials around the country began to think of the utility of cloud computing. Moving operations to the cloud has a number of advantages in efficiency and cost that, in these budget-constrained times, are of great value.

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Hamilton County’s emergency communication services will become more efficient as a new 911-dispatch software program has been chosen by a committee of fire, police, records and public safety personnel.

“It’s absolutely a game-changer,” Noblesville Police Chief Kevin Jowitt said. “We will have information available at our fingertips that will fundamentally change the ways we do our jobs.”

Michael Snowden, executive director of communications, said InterAct was selected over OSSI and New World, the current software being used in the county. Snowden expects the conversion to be completed by the beginning of 2015 and the move will not affect any staffing positions.

“The interoperability – share information with other agencies – is just huge,” he said.

“We feel, from a public safety standpoint, that InterAct is the right product to move to,” Sheriff Mark Bowen said.

Hamilton County has been using two software dispatch systems for the past year and a half since all dispatchers were consolidated into one center. When taking a call, emergency dispatches have two different forms they can fill out – one for Noblesville and Westfield and another for the other county public safety agencies.

“I’ve never seen an agency use two systems for more than a few weeks at a time,” said Snowden, who has worked in the public safety field for 27 years.

The software component is the final step in upgrading the public safety communication network in Hamilton County. First, the various dispatch centers were combined to one location in the Sheriff’s Office. Then new radios and cell towers were installed.

“It’s taking public safety to the next level,” Bowen said.

InterAct is used by the Indiana State Police, Marion County and most of the surrounding doughnut counties. By being on the same system, public safety officials will have access to their records. The web-based system also protects the county in case of power loss or computer issues.

“It builds in redundancy we don’t currently have now. If we lost a server, folks can still access the site and we’ll still have functionality on the web,” Jowitt said.

“If we loss connectivity, pen and paper is the backup system (currently),” Snowden said.

Snowden was given permission to begin preliminary negotiations with InterAct by the Hamilton County Commissioners. He said it was too early to discuss costs but Commissioner Christine Altman said the county would cover the software costs and conversion so municipalities won’t incur fees.

“We are able to cover the costs with 911 fees and grant support. So it will be a lot less of a burden on jurisdictions and the county,” Altman said.

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The Caroline Dispatch interviewed Lisa Harvey, a Caroline County dispatcher who works with InterAct systems.

Lisa Harvey has been on the phone with people as they’ve delivered babies and as they’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts.

Harvey is one of two supervisors in Caroline County’s 911 dispatch center. She joined the staff as a dispatcher in 1996 and was promoted just a few years later. In addition to directly supervising eight employees, she still handles emergency calls.

“It’s always challenging, and it’s a different pace, and it’s never the same,” Harvey said. “It’s a great job to have. I love it. I wouldn’t be here this long if I didn’t like.”

Dispatchers are required by law to attain certification through the Va. Department of Criminal Justice. The process takes a minimum of 40 hours, and it’s just the beginning.

They learn how to use a medical dispatch system, how to relay CPR and other “pre-arrival” instructions to people in a crisis, how to run license plates, and more.

Then there’s another 14 weeks of on-the-job training at the Caroline Emergency Communications Center, plus periodic recertification.

The Caroline 911 center dispatches the Caroline Sheriff’s Office, the Bowling Green Police Department, and all fire stations and rescue squads within the county, and they handle calls from school buses.

“I love the people I work with—the firemen, the deputies, the other dispatchers—and every day it’s something different. Every day brings something new,” Harvey said.

A perk of working in Caroline is “we all know each other,” Harvey said.

“We may not be big like Richmond or Chesterfield, but we get you the help as quickly as they do, and it is awesome when we all work together. We all know each other from outside this 911 center, so we work together and we work together well,” she said.

“I work with the best people in the world,” Harvey added.

Caroline’s current 911 center opened in 2004, and it’s a bit different from the 90s.

“When I first came to work here, everything was handwritten—handwritten dates and times and long, big pieces of paper to write all of our calls for service on. Now everything is computerized,” Harvey said.

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In honor of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, we will be sharing an article each day to highlight and appreciate the contributions of public safety dispatchers.

Georgia telecommunicator Danielle Harvey has won Smart911′s Smart Telecommunicator Award for her leadership, performance, compassion for callers, ability to inspire co-workers and overall contributions to her PSAP. We are happy that her success has been supported by an InterAct system, and extend our congratulations to her on her award!

Danielle Harvey of DeKalb County E-911 Communications, located in Tucker, was named the national winner for her exemplary work as a Certified Training Officer and outstanding job performance. Operator Harvey trains new dispatchers, teaching them response strategies and critical thinking. One of Harvey’s freshly trained dispatchers was just four hours into her first day on the job when the dispatcher answered a 9-1-1 call requesting medical assistance for her own father. Due to the high level of training provided by Harvey, the operator remained calm, professional and steadfast during the call. Operator Harvey is also credited with diligently assisting field units in safely locating a missing elderly woman. Since Harvey began work as a telecommunicator in 2007, she has received numerous accolades and recognition for her performance, teamwork and efforts on behalf of local charitable organizations.

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In honor of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, we will be sharing an article each day to highlight and appreciate the contributions of public safety dispatchers.

An Arizona dispatcher helped a father perform CPR on his infant son who was choking on a toy, saving his life.

One Casa Grande couple experienced a close call for a Casa Grande mom and dad after their infant son stopped breathing.

But a 911 dispatcher gave them the advice they needed over the phone to save his life.

Jayden Amaro is a healthy, hungry 9-month-old little boy. But he gave his parents quite a scare when he was playing with a toy last month.

“I left to go to the bathroom about a minute and a half at most, and I came back and the toy was lodged under his throat and he was suspended over it,” said his father, Mario Amaro. Jayden wasn’t breathing, so Amaro called 911.

“Before that I had no idea how to do CPR,” Amaro said. The dispatcher, Chris Stringfellow, gave the father instructions over the phone.

Paramedics arrived within five minutes and resumed CPR, and the boy’s pulse came back.

“It was pretty scary, I don’t ever want to relive that again,” said Jayden’s mother, Tosha Reed.

“Some calls are horrible, we hate them,” Stringfellow said.

The call impacted so many lives that the Southwest Ambulance paramedics who responded wanted to check in on the little guy.

“To actually have him here and happy and smiling in the arms of his mom is an overwhelming emotion,” said paramedic Jon Clark.

While Amaro and his family call Stringfellow a hero, he said it’s always a team effort.

“Everybody does their job, it’s what we’re here for,” Stringfellow said.

“Thank you, because I don’t know what I would’ve done,” Amaro said.

The parents have now completed a CPR course.

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In honor of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, we will be sharing an article each day to highlight and appreciate the contributions of public safety dispatchers.

An Ohio dispatcher walked a father through delivering his own child:

A new father in Cleves will remember his first call to 911 for the rest of his life, after a dispatcher walked him through a special moment.

One of the toughest and most rewarding nights of his life, Ryan Braun called when his wife’s water broke.

The couple had no idea they were pregnant.

Braun’s cry for help was answered by Hamilton County 911 dispatcher Jamie Mason.

“A lot of times callers just don’t know what to do,” Mason said.

“My wife is in labor,” Braun told Mason over the phone.

Four minutes into the call, the baby was ready to meet his new parents. You can listen to parts of the call in the video player above.

“It’s a boy!” Braun said.

Braun’s joy, fear and adrenaline wiped away much of what he remembers from his call to Mason — and delivering his new baby boy.

“Bits and pieces. I remember the baby in my arms, that’s about all I remember,” Braun said.

Mason has seven kids of her own, and visited the Braun family at Good Samaritan Hospital Wednesday. She’s pleased with Braun’s bravery.

“He did amazing,” she said. “He did absolutely amazing.”

Braun is thankful he had Mason’s help.

“Having her help me calmed me down, and that’s the best word for it,” Braun said. “It was calming. It was soothing to have somebody there to walk me through it.”

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In honor of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, we will be sharing an article each day to highlight and appreciate the contributions of public safety dispatchers.

Dispatchers from Dauphin County, Pennsylvania received awards for their outstanding service to the community.

Tom Pottiger talked a woman trapped in a Market Street house fire in Marchwho was gasping for air into a safe spot to wait for firefighters to arrive.

Emily Fagan helped a woman do the Heimlich maneuver, and someone else do CPR in February.

Brandon Freistat got help for a woman trapped in an overturned car on the Pa. Turnpike last November.

And Kelly Cunningham helped deliver a baby girl over a 911 call in January.

All received special awards from Dauphin County commissioners Wednesday, as they proclaimed this National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, and April county government month.

Cunningham received the “stork” pin, while the other three received livesaver awards.

“No individuals do more for our community than they do,” said Commissioner Mike Pries. “They get the calls when people are having the worst possible moments in their life,” he said, and handle them with composure, compassion and professionalism. “They are the calm, competent and reassuring voice at the other end of each call,” Pries said.

Pottiger, who began working as a dispatcher in 1989, is also Halifax fire chief. All of those receiving awards are involved in emergency service in some way outside their 911 jobs.

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In honor of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, we will be sharing an article each day to highlight and appreciate the contributions of public safety dispatchers.

John Hill, a Virginia dispatcher, talked a 911 caller through performing CPR on her husband and saving his life.

As they were getting ready to go to sleep earlier than normal, Phil Baker was already in bed reading a book, while Cheryl Baker was in another room. After she heard a strange sound coming from their bedroom, her instincts told her go back and see what the noise was.

When she returned to their bedroom, she found her husband partially slumped down between their bed and a night stand after suffering an apparent heart attack.

Cheryl Baker called 911, and on the receiving end was dispatcher John Hill. He talked her through conducting CPR on her husband until paramedics arrived. Her actions, along with Hill’s, helped save her husband’s life.

Phil and Cheryl Baker made a special appearance at the Blount County E911 Communications Center Monday afternoon during an awards ceremony and luncheon, where dispatchers were being honored for their service.

Hill received a special Certificate of Commendation for his actions with the couple, and they appeared in person to meet Hill and express their gratitude for helping save Phil Baker’s life.

“He was just wonderful in the way he responded,” Cheryl Baker said, referring to Hill. “I basically started talking to him and doing CPR, and got him back to breathing before the EMTs arrived.”

Monday was also an extra special day for Phil Baker, as he also completed cardiac rehabilitation. “The first thing I remember is going out in the cold,” Phil Baker said, reflecting on the incident. “I can remember that’s what really woke me up, and I could hear the voices talking about what they were going to do. We wanted to make sure we came here and thank (dispatchers) personally for the work they do. Hardly anybody knows where this place is, who’s involved and who does it.”

“A lot of people don’t remember unless you’re older like us that we didn’t always have 911,” Cheryl Baker added.

Hill said that knowing he helped save a life made him appreciate and love his job even more.

“So many times we take calls and people go to the hospital and we never hear anything else and what happens next,” Hill said. “To know I made a difference in this one account makes everything you do here worthwhile.”

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In honor of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, we will be sharing an article each day to highlight and appreciate the contributions of public safety dispatchers.

A San Francisco dispatcher, Matthew Roybal, was honored for his work coordinating the emergency response during the Asiana Flight 214 plane crash last year.

Breed said Roybal helps keep people safe from the stressful environment of the communications center where 911 calls come in and “reassures people on their worst days.”

She lauded him for his work on July 6, 2013 when Asiana Flight 214 crashed at San Francisco International Airport.

“The dispatch center was inundated,” Breed said. “(Roybal) had to determine what information was essential.”

Matthew coordinated all fire and medical units that were sent from San Francisco to SFO that day.

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said the fire department “had our hands full that day” and that Roybal was critical in dispatching responders.

She said dispatchers are “the unsung heroes” in the city.

“If they don’t do their jobs efficiently and effectively, we can’t do ours,” she said, referring to the Fire Department.

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Technology issues don’t typically stop cloud implementations. More often than not, it’s the people. Office politics, unrealistic expectations, and general stupidity are the common culprits that hinder cloud computing use at many enterprises.

The vocal opponents to cloud computing we heard in 2008 are mostly quiet in 2014. However, they are still lurking. Today, they use closed-door conversations to call the cloud into question, often for the wrong reasons. By doing so, they create a toxic culture around the use of cloud computing — or any new technologies that may prove to be innovative and helpful but threaten the status quo.

Today, cloud computing has real momentum. Projects are beginning to ramp up, despite opposition around the use of public cloud resources. However, if a business pushes cloud computing onto an IT culture that simply won’t have it, the project becomes so difficult that it is likely to fail.

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