Everyone likes to be cautious and smart. On the other hand a reason for caution is not so obvious-especially if a real issue is not well understood by those that may be affected by it. Smart means recognizing the inherent risks that we face. 

Case in point: not moving the artificial date to switch over from DeKalb County to Chattcomm for 911 Service, here in Dunwoody. The risk is a possible longer response time of the Fire and Emergency Services component and the resulting impact on citizens like you and me. 

Most everyone who keeps abreast of the evolution of this project realizes that it is charged politically and criticism of the decision to stick with DeKalb County has over-shadowed the real subject of controversy-a perhaps unrealistic deadline. 

The decision to change however has been made and it is fair to say that that we need to get on with it. However we should not assume it will occur as claimed. Projects like this historically have seen delays and false starts. It seems that that has not been adequately acknowledged by the central players because it is important that the current time table  was considered smart decision. 

In recent times Councilman Danny Ross has questioned the choice of switching and in the process has learned much about the current state of the transition. Based on my background in fire and emergency dispatch systems and related software and wireless communications networks and as a result Danny’s white paper and the press coverage of the subject I took an interest in how things were progressing. The central issue of switching those life critical calls from Chatcomm 911 to DeKalb 911 has not been completely worked out and reportedly related software to deal with the problem is behind in the schedule that calls for a “cutover” in October. This plan seems to be cemented in political stone and not gated by a realistic re-evaluation of what and how long it will take to make this all work without the risk of affecting the response time expected by Dunwoody’s citizens. 

While there are plenty of fine minds and dedicated souls driving this project, there is no one overseer that has the experience of implementing such a solution without some delay or alteration of the original plan. 

Why then is there so much resistance to moving out the date based on design and tested design criteria that will assure citizens they will get what they are expecting. That is what citizens should be asking of the City -even if they don’t have the ability, interest and/or time to understand the complexity of this mission critical undertaking.  

Sure, budgets are impacted by delays, politics always play a role in government and someone’s name gets stamped on the results- good or bad.  

But when lives are affected we owe it to ourselves to insist that the job gets done correctly and in whatever time frame is needed to assure us that the new service will meet the objective. Money is not the sole object-we are worth it and can afford some unexpected overrun. Citizens should demand more caution. It’s the smarter thing to do.

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