Indianapolis to collect $2.5 million settlement over failed dispatch system

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The City of Indianapolis will collect $2.5 million from a contractor that failed to provide a workable Computer Aided Dispatch system for public safety that wildly out promised the capabilities of an untried technology.

The agreement with Colossus Incorporated, which took over InterAct Public Safety Systems and N. Harris Computer Corporation, admits no liability for the doomed CAD project and “is made for the sole purpose of compromising claims that are disputed as to validity and amount.”

4 Fast Facts

  • Indianapolis to receive $2.5 million settlement over problems with computer aided dispatch system
  • The city paid an estimated $12 million for the system, which went until place during the Ballard administration
  • City has agreed on a $5.5 million deal for a new CAD system
  • New system should have a shelf life of 8 to 10 years before upgrades are needed

Remnants of the system are virtually unusable though the settlement permits limited access to fragments of the technology for the next year.

The payout is a fraction of the estimated $12 million, more than $8 million of it paid up front, that the city invested in the InterAct project beginning in 2012 under the administration of former Mayor Greg Ballard.

Three years later then-Public Safety Director Troy Riggs negotiated a new contract with Harris Computer, which took over InterAct after the original provider’s slide toward bankruptcy, that provided some financial guarantees for the city.

Indianapolis was InterAct’s biggest customer for the theoretical system and after the contractor missed repeated deadlines, Riggs threatened to stop payment, sending the company into a tailspin.

According to the settlement, both sides and the city’s outside counsel, Ice Miller, agree to make no comment on the resolution.

About 1.4 million times a year, 911 operators in Marion County receive a call for help and dispatch a police officer, a fire truck or an EMS crew utilizing its computer aided dispatch system.

Marion County’s CAD is antiquated, dating back literally to the turn of the century, and in need of not only a technological overhaul but a total junking and reboot.

On Dec. 7, the Board of Public Health and Safety approved a $5.5 million contract with Motorola to spend the next 18 months building a new CAD system.

Discredited former Public Safety Director Frank Straub was forced out in August 2012 and the next month, in the absence of his permanent replacement, Marion County signed the InterAct deal for the allegedly “state-of-the-art” system.

InterAct had never built such a complex system to deal with the needs of a metropolitan area the size of Indianapolis.

From the start the project was fraught with problems, technological shortcomings and missed deadlines.

Harris also faltered in delivering on InterAct’s pie-in-the-sky undeliverable promises and a year ago the county ended its contract and sued.

Most of the InterAct technology, hardware and software can’t be salvaged.

Under the new Motorola system, which has been built and operated in cities such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Nashville, operators will be able to track fire, police and EMS vehicles, assigning the closest first responder to the call with Automatic Vehicle Locator technology.

The system also has a Stored Alert feature so that responders can pull up the history of the address they’ve been dispatched and determine if there is a potential of violence or special health or child needs.

The system will not include a records management system for IMPD and IFD that will be developed in 2017.

The life of the current CAD system expires at the end of the year, though the provider, Tritech, has agreed to continue service until the new system is operational. The current system does not need meet FBI requirements for confidential information sharing.

The new system should have a shelf life of eight to ten years before massive upgrades would be needed.