February 10, 2017
PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota’s 9-1-1 Coordination Board voted Thursday to withhold payment to the vendor who has been hired to upgrade the state’s 9-1-1 emergency communications system.
Payment to NextGen Communications, Inc. (Comtech) of Annapolis, MD is being withheld effective immediately. The current contract calls for the state to pay Comtech $259,000 a month for its work on the system.
Since 2015, the state has paid Comtech $7.4 million to design, build and maintain a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 system. The new 9-1-1 system will equip all of the state’s 28 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) with Next Generation (NEXTGEN) 9-1-1 technology. This new technology will allow the PSAPs to share information and data easier, provide back up to one another and eventually accept text to 9-1-1 messages when a phone call to 9-1-1 isn’t possible.
The phase one work of installing a new phone system has been done at 19 PSAPs so far and this phase is scheduled to be completed this year. But in a letter to Comtech sent today (Feb. 9), the 9-1-1 Coordination Board stated that Comtech has been slow to fix several recurring problems found within the system.
“While the state understands there will be trouble tickets submitted over time by each PSAP, the recurring frequency of these issues is unacceptable,” the letter reads. “Comtech must resolve these specific items and provide the state with an explanation of how it was resolved and provide assurance the system as deployed will work as designed.”
The letter says monthly payment will be withheld until such time as the listed items are resolved to the satisfaction of the state.
While there have been problems in some areas, the board stresses that the 9-1-1 system still functions statewide.
“None of the PSAPs are without service and 9-1-1 emergency calls are being answered,” says state 9-1-1 Coordinator Shawnie Rechtenbaugh. “But for the new system to work as it should, Comtech needs to fix these recurring problems. It has been a frustrating situation that has lingered for several months and the board believed it had to act.”
PSAPS are located in: Aberdeen, Belle Fourche, Britton, Brookings, Canton, Custer, Deadwood, Elk Point, Flandreau, Hot Springs, Howard, Huron, Lake Andes, Madison, Mitchell, Mobridge, Pierre, Rapid City, Redfield, Sioux Falls, Sisseton, Spearfish, Sturgis, Tyndall, Vermillion, Watertown, Winner and Yankton
The 9-1-1 Coordination Board is part of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.