Carbon County will be making some major improvements at the communications center in Nesquehoning.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted to authorize the advertisement for bids for a Tech Refresh update on the hardware and software to the current PlantCML Vesta Pallas Nex Gen E911 call handling system.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, said the reason for the bid request is that the workstations, servers and PCs at the comm. center, which were installed over five years ago, are outdated and need to be replaced.

"They were used heavily for the last five and a half years – 24 hours a day, every day of the week," O'Gurek said, adding that the project is going to be very complicated in that it requires three companies completing it in stages.

The bids will include hardware, software and professional services.

"Basically, what's going to happen is we're going to ask someone to provide the workstations and servers," O'Gurek said. "Another company will then load them up with software from PlantCML in California, which is the dispatching software that allows our dispatchers to do their job. The third company will then bring them here and integrate everything into our system."

He noted that the job is expected to cost around $160,000 or more and will be paid through Act 78 and 56 funds. The funds come from user fees that all cell phone and landline users are required to pay monthly in their bills. The money from these fees is then allocated for projects such as this, which will keep counties up-to-date in communications equipment and services for emergency situations.

O'Gurek added that the project will involve major coordination between the county and the companies providing the services.

"This is going to be a complicated project because the hardware needs to be equipped with the software from California and then it needs to be integrated into the system with as minimal down time at the comm. center as possible," he said, adding that they are hoping that the center will be down for only about 30 to 40 minutes.

All of this, county officials said, must be done as soon as possible because the extended service agreement that the county has is only good until the end of June.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein added that during the period of time when the system will be down, another comm. center, most likely in neighboring Monroe County, will handle all emergency calls that come from Carbon County residents.

The project started late last year, when the county was told that the existing hardware was outdated and the parts were no longer available for the system.

Carbon County has been continually upgrading various parts of the comm. center to make sure that dispatchers have the most up-to-date technology to best serve the callers.