Skaneateles: Talking technical

Experts say more is better for Skaneateles Comm Center

The Skaneateles Communications Center needs a technological facelift a panel of communications experts told the public last week.

The panel, more or less, informed the Joint Skaneateles Dispatch Citizens Advisory committee that the dispatch center's equipment is outdated and that the village and town would have to "spend thousands of dollars" to keep a constantly updated computerized radio system. It currently costs around $300,000 a year to operate the one-room dispatch center.

Sean Sparks, who runs the technical department at the county's 9-1-1 center, said the SCC can go pretty much two ways: an upgraded button system like the one in place now, or a computerized system that would cost thousands to maintain.

But some of the workers said, "bigger ain't always better" during the second of three open meetings in the village fire hall on Fennell Street.

The panel included Jeff Willis from Finger Lakes Communications Perspective, Rick Webster from United Radio Services Perspective, Sean Sparks from the Onondaga County 9-1-1 dispatch center and David Bales who works part time for the Skaneateles Communications Center and the county 9-1-1 center.

"At this point, I would have to say, 'Yes' you need to upgrade," Webster said, who is a manager at URSP, a Syracuse-based company that supplies communications services to the area, including the Onondaga County's 9-1-1 Center. "But you with today's technology, you would realistically have to constantly upgrade that system every three or four years."

Webster also said that the bigger an operation you have, the more liability you assume as a first-responder service provider.

"You really need to look at what you want to do," he said. "If you want to become bigger, you would assume more liability and accountability units if you were to do so, but that's up to you to decide."

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