Laguna Beach OKs $890k Public Safety Dispatch, Record System

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A Laguna Beach police patrol car. Photo courtesy of LBPD

The Laguna Beach City Council approved a five-year contract Tuesday worth more than $890,000 for a new computer-aided dispatch system for its police, fire, and marine safety departments.

SOMA Global’s cloud-based system will replace the technology that Laguna Beach has used since 2006. The computer-aided dispatch (CAD) allows command staff to coordinate and track personnel and equipment responding to calls for service.

“We’re happy that we’ve not only found a new innovative vendor but we’ve also been able to bring in this project $1.4 million under budget,” Acting Police Chief Jason Kravetz said.

Modern CADs also monitor emergency vehicles’ locations via GPS, which can be used to direct first responders to the fastest routes.

The proposed program switch also includes a new record management system that would serve all three public safety departments. Currently, Laguna Beach police call records are kept on a separate system from fire and marine safety.

SOMA Global was selected from a short-list of four qualified vendors.

“All four vendors demonstrated their product in August for a group of 21 public safety personnel, along with I.T. staff,” according to a staff report. “The overwhelming choice of the stakeholders was the SOMA Global product.”

City staffers reached their initial $2.3 million cost estimate for the new CAD based on experience from the last CAD purchase and researching what other agencies recently agreed to pay, Kravetez said. More than a million-dollar savings was possible because SOMA eliminates the need for multiple expensive on-site servers and charges agencies per user instead of a uniform sum.

The new program will also save man hours by eliminating the need for an employee to manually input data from citations into the record management system, Kravetz said. Currently, patrol and parking enforcement officers use handheld devices to record citations that are sent to the Superior Court—those devices are unable to automatically pipe information to Laguna Beach’s records.

“It’s just a waste of valuable time,” Kravetz said.

An approved acquisition of this consequential technology was a swan song for outgoing police chief Laura Farinella, who retired Thursday. The agenda item is the result of a 12-month process following a request for proposals coordinated in partnership with Fire Chief Mike Garcia and Gavin Curran, director of administrative services.

To kick-off the purchase, Laguna Beach will have to pay $269,000 to SOMA Global within the first year of the contract. The City Council approved city staffers’ request for an additional $120,000 for hardware including desktop computers, handheld devices for frontline first responders, iPads for Fire Department vehicles, and a backup server.

The City Council also earmarked $125,000 for public safety overtime to train on the new software and a $135,000 contingency fund in case of unforeseen technical challenges. All together, councilmembers set aside up to $649,400 for the first year of the program’s life.

In the course of reviewing SOMA Global’s proposal, Laguna Beach staffers contacted other agencies for feedback on the software. They received positive feedback from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Palm Springs police and fire departments, San Diego Harbor Police Department, Indio Police Department, and the Police Department of Richmond, VA, according to a staff report.

After an implementation and testing process scheduled to kick-off in February, Laguna Beach’s “go-live date” for the new CAD will be sometime in November 2021, Kravetz said.

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