Tony Parrott explains why PSAPs need to look well beyond the initial purchase price when choosing an NG9-1-1 call handling solution.
Like any major purchase, the upfront costs for an NG9-1-1 call handling solution can be daunting, especially in the face of ongoing budget constraints. While cost concerns can make it tempting to pick the solution with the lowest initial purchase price, that’s often a short-sighted decision. To get the best value for your money, you need to look at the long-term total cost of ownership (TCO) for the solution.
There are four main factors to consider when trying to determine TCO for an NG9-1-1 system.
If you have to overhaul the system and replace infrastructure to add functionality and support new requirements, it won’t be long before upgrades become cost prohibitive. A modular solution that supports backwards and forwards compatibility lets you meet today’s requirements and prepare for cost-effective evolution.
With this approach, you can support legacy systems as well as current and emerging standards for 9-1-1 call handling. You can also add new functionality when you’re ready without the costs and hassles of a forklift upgrade to the underlying system. Key new capabilities, such as integrated support for text-to-911 calls and more precise location mapping, can simply be enabled in the backroom software platform and at call-taker desktops.
A modular call handling and management solution that provides backwards and forwards compatibility also helps you keep system maintenance costs stable and predictable.
Because the underlying system is designed to support updates in a plug-and-play format, you can adopt an annual maintenance plan that covers incremental and version updates for software and hardware at a pre-established price. And you can easily activate new features and functions as needed, knowing there will be no surprise upgrade costs in the backroom.
This approach eliminates the high cost of continuous, unexpected hardware upgrades to keep the system up to date. Instead, you can carefully plan and budget hardware refresh cycles for servers and switches at scheduled intervals — typically every five years.
Take a very close look at the costs associated with ongoing training requirements.
Many NG9-1-1 call handling systems require extensive call taker training every time you add a new feature or function. That’s because these solutions are typically comprised of several different components that were originally designed for other applications. The time and costs associated with all of this training eats away at your budget and call-taker productivity.
In contrast, solutions that are purpose-built for 9-1-1 call handling and management and designed in a holistic way keep training time and costs to a minimum. Call takers receive training when the system is first installed, but the intuitive design and customizable user interface make it fast and easy to learn how to use the solution. When new features and functions are added, they are integrated seamlessly into the overall system so virtually no additional training is required.
You also need to consider the cost of future growth. A solution that supports growth and expansion with minimal updates to the backroom hardware and software platform will help you keep TCO low.
When you can expand without replacing key equipment, such as the controller, your costs per call-taker position can actually drop. For example, expanding from two call-taker positions to 10 positions over five years can cut per-position costs by approximately 53 percent.
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To get the best value for your money, it is important to look at the long-term total cost of ownership for a solution, not just up-front costs.
To learn more about the factors that affect TCO for NG9-1-1 solutions, read the business case:
Integrated 9-1-1 Call Handling and Management With a Low Total Cost of Ownership