System provides geo-redundancy at both the main system and a backup PSAP site across town; it also provides a migration path to NG-911 by allowing the agency to add modules as needed--for example, to receive text messages and videos from 911 callers--eliminating the need for a forklift upgrade.
recently announced that Leon County, Fla.—home to the state capital of Tallahassee—has deployed its VESTA/Sentinel 4 call-taking system to support a new consolidated (PSAP) facility, while also providing geo-redundancy and a migration path to .
Leon County previously used Cassidian 911 solutions, and one of the goals was to make the configurable user interface of the new system look as similar as possible to the previous system when the PSAP consolidation into a new facility occurred, according to Edith Taylor, Leon County’s 911 coordinator.
“Our cutover was very smooth,” Taylor said during an interview with Urgent Communications. “We moved into a brand-new facility, which means there is a new, a new phone system and all these new things to the call-takers. ... They tried to make the GUI look as similar as it could to the previous one we were used to using, so it wouldn’t be a huge learning curve.”
Another priority for Leon County was to ensure that the 911 system is reliable, even if the main PSAP facility is compromised by a natural disaster or other significant event. Leon County officials were able to gain some “peace of mind” by using the Cassidian solution to provide geo-redundancy at both the main system and a backup PSAP site across town, according to Susan Nelson, the Cassidian Communications regional account manager working on the project.
“One of the key features of the VESTA/Sentinel 4 is the ability to deploy it in a geo-diverse design, which gives the PSAP complete redundancy—a side A and a side B that are completely redundant to each other that are continuously syncing,” Nelson said during an interview. “So, if one component or one site fails, the other site automatically takes over. No calls are dropped, and the call-taker doesn’t even notice the switchover.
“So, you can have side A and side B in the same room for a redundant system, or—for even more diversity—you can deploy side A in one building and side B in another building and connect them with a network. So, if a building is compromised, you still have the system intact at your backup facility, which is what Leon County did.”
Another benefit of deploying the VESTA/Sentinel 4 solution is that it provides a clear roadmap to next-generation 911, Nelson said.
“This system provides a path to next-gen  with investment protection,” she said. “So, there’s no forklift upgrade going down the road—they’ll just add modules, as they become available, to enable them to take text messaging, video or any of the new stuff coming down the road.”
CenturyLink was the systems integrator for the project, and AK Associates was the technical contractor, according to Taylor.
“I cannot say enough about how smooth the implementation was,” Taylor said in a statement. “The level of communication between our personnel, Cassidian Communications, AK Associates and CenturyLink was impeccable. It allowedme to breathe easily during this transition, and I can continue to do so with the sense of security that comes with having this truly redundant system.”