June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

Sheriff wants info put in the ‘cloud’

The Medina County Sheriff’s Office says a software server upgrade will provide better service and eventually save the county money.

But the change won’t come cheap.

The Medina County Board of Commissioners tasked county Administrator Chris Jakab on Monday with finding an additional $159,000 in this year’s budget to convert all of the Sheriff’s Office information software systems to a “cloud” server based in Columbus.

Upkeep and replacement for the existing system hardware and programming will cost more than $186,000 next year and switching to the remote servers now could save more than $56,000.

“I’d rather have it done this year. It certainly has all the advantages,” Commissioner Stephen D. Hambley said. “And it enhances the public safety.”

The department’s law-enforcement data systems, provided by EmergiTech Corp., logs all calls to the Sheriff’s Office and routes them to officers in the field, tracks patrol car locations and jail inmates, sends police reports to the county prosecutor’s office and citations to the Common Pleas Court and allows officers to write and submit their reports from the field.

Sheriff Tom Miller said the upgraded system will have the same capabilities but also would allow local agencies to be linked with the department’s records to provide easier public access.

The cost savings would result from elimination of bulky hardware now at the Sheriff’s Office and the cost of maintaining it.

In the new system, all information will be stored in a central database in Columbus and the county will pay only the annual service fees. Those fees include the costs of annual software upgrades and system security.

At a discussion session after Monday’s commissioners meeting, Miller and Communications Supervisor Jonelle Meredith said the overall costs of maintaining the existing network would be more than $186,000.

The cost of switching to the “cloud” this year will be roughly $159,000, a savings of nearly $28,000. But if the county switches by Aug. 31, a pro-rated bill would reduce the cost of the switch to just under $130,000, saving an additional $28,000.

Miller said a Technology Improvement Grant of $50,000 from phone provider Securus, in exchange for a three-year contract extension, helped to cover the costs of upgrading 21 computers in the office to Windows 7, and the software switch will cover the costs of upgrading 16 more.

Commissioner Patricia Giessman said she’s not certain where Jakab will find the revenue in an already strained budget, but she is confident he will.

“Chris used to be the county finance director, so if anyone will know where to find those dollars, he will,” she said.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.

What’s the ‘cloud’?
Cloud computing refers to the practice of renting software and other computing accessories over the Internet, an approach that once seemed to be out of step with the long-standing policies of corporate customers and government agencies who preferred to own their machines and the applications running on them. But that sentiment has changed in the past six years as the popularity of powerful smartphones and tablet computers has driven the demand for services that can be reached from any Internet-connected device.
— from wire reports