Call for 112 centres

The Gauteng provincial government says the performance of its 10111 police contact centre have improved, but emergency services say the centre is failing and the introduction of 112 emergency contact centres has become critical.
Khabisi Mosunkutu, MEC for community safety in Gauteng, says the decrease in the reaction time of police over the past year indicates improvement, ITWeb reports.
“I am happy to report that we continue to reduce the time it takes for police to practically respond to 10111 emergencies. It now takes us less than 30 minutes, on average, to respond to emergencies reported on the 10111 number. This is the lowest response time recorded since April 2008, when the reaction times averaged 102 minutes,” the MEC said.
The SA Police Service in 2006 funded ICT giant Altech to build a multimillion rand 10111 contact centre and dispatch control post in Midrand that has since replaced six older, analogue technology centres. The upgrade also included rolling out EADS Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) systems to Gauteng`s police officers and vehicles, with the former having handheld TETRA sets.
At the launch then-President Thabo Mbeki said the centre would be a template for the rest of the country. He predicted at least one similar centre for every province by 2015. Since then tenders have been issued for three smaller but similar centres for the Eastern Cape.   
Mosunkutu adds his department will continue working on decreasing the reaction time of the 20 stations with the slowest reaction times.
However, the Johannesburg Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) is calling for the faster implementation of the 112 centres, saying 10111 centres are failing. The JEMS notes the centralised emergency number has become an urgent issue and delayed response times will continue without the introduction of 112 centres.
“Services have delayed response times, which could result in people dying. There is poor co-ordination between services. Incidents get managed poorly and services over-respond, which is expensive,” says JEMS spokesperson Anzelle Smit.
The Department of Communications (DoC), meanwhile, is scheduled to set up two Public Emergency Communications Centres (PECC) that will consolidate the more than 350 emergency centres nationwide, handling calls and dispatching for the country’s various police, ambulance and fire-fighting services.
The PECCs are being established in terms of the Electronic Communications Act, which requires the DoC to establish the capability and the Independent Communications Authority of SA to issue the requisite regulations, which it recently did.
While the DoC has remained mum on the development of the PECC or 112 centres, it states “some progress has been made”. The department last year expressed hope of having a more comprehensive emergency response system in place by June 2010, in time for the FIFA Soccer World Cup.
Department spokesman Richard Mantu said the DoC was busy with the establishment of the centres, but failed to provide further details, saying more information would be made available soon.
In June last year the DoC said SA was still “on track” to have a single national toll-free emergency contact number in place by the last quarter of this year, but has made no information available.
Mantu could not say if the tender for the centres had been awarded. The centres will be run as public-private partnerships, involving the DoC and the vendor chosen by the department to establish and run the PECCs. The DoC previously stated that calls for bids ended in early 2008 and that it was still appraising the results.
Vendors were short-listed and expected to undergo an evaluation process between August and September 2008, but a year later the department is yet to report on the progress of this procedure.

Pic: SANDF 10111 call centre