Jerry Sanders places a tall order for computer software.
  • Jerry Sanders places a tall order for computer software.
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San Diego’s budget has been out of whack for years, but that hasn’t stopped Mayor Jerry Sanders from embarking on a pre-Christmas shopping spree, starting with an elaborate new computerized scheduling system for the police department, where he was once chief. Judging by a November 23 request for proposals, relief can’t come too soon. “Staffing and scheduling for the San Diego Police Department’s Communications Division 9-1-1 dispatch employee unit is a considerable task,” says the document. Among problems presented by the currently used manual system, according to the document, are “Employees spending excessive amounts of time looking for other employees to work for them, trade shifts or trade days off”; “Inaccurate coverage of bilingual employees”; and “Frequent opportunities for errors due to miscopying information.” The new software, the price of which is yet to be determined, must “prevent dispatchers from signing up to work too many hours and ensuring there is sufficient rest periods between shifts.”

Another data-related stocking stuffer comes in the form of an elaborate new vehicle location and global positioning system. The City owns 4050 vehicles, says a solicitation for proposals, and it wants to know their drivers’ every move, right down to when engines are revved and sirens are deployed. The fleet consists of “motorcycles, parking enforcement scooters, sedans, law enforcement vehicles, light trucks/vans, medium/heavy duty trucks, fire apparatus, refuse collection trucks, street sweepers, trailers, tractors and industrial equipment.” Two thousand vehicles already have fancy satellite navigation setups, leaving about 1800 more in need of future installations. In addition, the City wants extra gear that can “track mobile, non-vehicular assets such as laptop computers and cell phones.”

There is no estimated price at present, but the order appears to be a tall one: “The system will: 1) monitor and report vehicle location, heading and usage information (real time and/or historical), 2) provide supervisory/ management staff with vehicle usage information, 3) provide vehicle operating data such as drive train diagnostics/idle time/odometer readings and 4) record and report ancillary equipment usage such as sweeper broom up/down or police siren on/off, etc.” Responses are due December 16.

The City’s previous experience with computers, software, and related data systems has been mixed at best, resulting in cost overruns, scandal, and lawsuits. That has made the mayor’s latest moves of special interest to potential bidders and city hall insiders alike, some of whom are already quietly complaining about fragmentation of the procurement process.

In the meantime, the county’s Office of Emergency Services is in the market for software and a consultant to run “Alert San Diego,” an emergency warning scheme. “The purpose of this system will be to provide a method of providing emergency mass notification to the estimated 3,095,313 residents of San Diego County,” says the November 16 request for proposals. Costs aren’t given, and exactly how it will work is not described, but a lot of computer gear is involved. The setup must be able to “successfully initiate and launch emergency calls to thousands of residents in minutes”; “be available 99.9% of the time”; and “be capable of directly launching a notification event via a personal computer with Internet access or telephone (land-line, satellite, or mobile).”

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