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New data and communications center a boon for Louisville

Beth Niblock

Beth Niblock, chief information officer for Louisville Metro Government, poses by a rack of technology equipment inside the city's new MetroSafe communications and data center. The multimillion-dollar effort consolidates those services under one roof with layers of redundancy to ensure continuous operation.

Nestled among large buildings in Louisville’s central business district, behind blast-proof concrete walls measuring 4-feet in depth, construction crews are wrapping up work at MetroSafe, a brand new, state-of-the-art information technology and communications center that handles all data and voice communications for metro government. 
“Compared to what we have, it is like coming from the stone age to the present,” said Les Harral, network supervisor for the city. “This is the good stuff.”
The good stuff includes millions in new technology investment for data and communication tools, as well as layers of continuity and redundancy to ensure the pulse never stops.
Dana Spratt, service level manager for MetroSafe, said during planning and renovation officials focused on delivering multiple forms of redundancy for data and communications in the event of an emergency.  For instance, a 10,000-gallon diesel fuel tank and 2.5 kilowatt generator can keep operations running for nearly a week should the center lose power.  The data center is also equipped with four HVAC units in the event of failure.
“The things we are doing with public safety are on the cutting edge,” Spratt said, adding that many larger cities are looking to Louisville’s success in planning their own consolidated communications and data centers.
The highly-secured center, which opened Sept. 11, will eventually house more than 300 city employees. Inside a command center room large television screens show live footage beamed from cameras on interstates located at various locations around the city.
According to the city’s Web site, MetroSafe’s 911 dispatch center can process more than 1.3 million emergency calls each year. Dispatchers use real-time mapping technology to assign the closest emergency units.
The city purchased the building in 2004 for $4 million, and spent an additional $11 million in renovations and infrastructure. 
Including the new public safety radio system, the entire MetroSafe project will cost more than $71 million. Nearly half of the project’s funding has come from federal and state money.



Last Updated 10/1/2009