How South Sound 911 Transformed Public Safety in Pierce County, Washington

Community safety is an inherently collaborative process that requires the collective effort of multiple groups, including governments, emergency services, and the public, to work together. Effective communication is crucial for successful interactions between these groups. Without it, collaboration is lost.

But what happens when these groups can’t communicate effectively due to technological shortcomings? One such example is Pierce County, Washington, a customer of Hexagon’s Safety & Infrastructure division.

Operational Issues in Pierce County

Home to the city of Tacoma, Pierce County is the second-largest county in the state with nearly 900,000 citizens. Prior to 2011, public safety agencies there struggled to share critical information during emergencies, leading to several high-profile incidents exposing the inefficiencies of the county’s dispatching and radio systems.

In light of these operational failures, county leaders faced the difficult task of improving public safety communications systems and operations without completely altering their existing agencies. Their solution was a stroke of genius.

Creation of South Sound 911

To achieve greater collaboration, the county formed a new interlocal emergency agency, South Sound 911. It consolidates five public safety answering points (PSAPs) into a new communications center and serves as a central hub for effectively sharing information across the 41 agencies it serves.

Because of the size and scope of the consolidation, South Sound 911 required a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system from a proven partner to make their organizational failings a thing of the past. After a rigorous review process, officials with South Sound 911 decided to partner with Hexagon to build their ideal solution. After implementation, the consolidated system began to pay off immediately.

“Using a shared system, we’re able to get that data to and from different agencies faster than we ever were before,” said Tim Hannah, assistant director of South Sound 911.

Benefits of the Hexagon Solution

Before consolidation, a police officer from another jurisdiction could unknowingly drive past an active call because the departments were not using a connected system. Now, by using laptops, tablets, and smartphones connected to the CAD system, officers in different jurisdictions can see what neighboring agencies are responding to as well as share data and help each other. Additionally, police and fire agencies can more seamlessly work together.

South Sound 911 is also saving taxpayers money. Not only is the new consolidated center and CAD system a win for public safety agencies and the citizens they’re helping, it also helps to ensure the long-term viability of South Sound 911’s revitalized public safety efforts.

South Sound 911 is an excellent example of the kinds of improvements that help build communities that are smart, productive, and safe.

To learn more about how Hexagon helped South Sound 911 establish a safer community, save taxpayers money, and improve the effectiveness of its local public safety agencies, download the full case study.


Zach Nickels Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure Blog Author
About Zach Nickels
Zach Nickels is a content marketing manager for Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure's Global Marketing team. His portfolio consists of political campaign writing and magazine editing as well as contracting for non-profits. Nickels holds a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy from Kent State University.