Highway Patrol shows off new communications center

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 4, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — The North Carolina State Highway Patrol debuted a new communications center on Friday that makes the Rowan County-based station the most advanced in the state.
The Troop E communications center, beside the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles building at 5780 S. Main St., is one of many communication centers being upgraded throughout the state, according to Telecommunications Supervisor Steve Myers.
At an open house ceremony on Friday, dozens of State Highway Patrol officers, supervisors and local emergency personnel saw the improved facility that has been under construction since December 2010.
The old communications center is just a few feet from the new center, which will debut on Nov. 14, Myers said.
The old station was built in the early 1950s and has four call stations inside. Calls into the station are distributed accordingly by multicolored buttons and a small TV screen.
The new facility has touch screen monitors and flat-screen televisions that can monitor traffic flow on the interstate.
Myers said one of the benefits the state-of-the-art facility offers is that operators can patch calls together, making emergency communication smoother.
“If an IMAP driver needs to talk to one of our troopers, we could patch them together,” Myers said. “With the old system, we couldn’t do that.”
Troop E covers 10 counties across the state, including Rowan, Cabarrus, Davie, Davidson and Forsyth.
Dale Gray, one of the center’s operators, said he hasn’t been over to see the new facility yet, but he’s aware of the technology upgrades.
“The computers, the radios, the Internet access, the touch screens,” Gray said, “that’s definitely an improvement over what we’ve had in the past.”
Training for the new equipment will begin next week, Gray said, and although he’s been working in the old center for 18 years, he’s ready for the change.
“Every call is a different challenge,” Gray said. “The paint doesn’t do the work. The concrete doesn’t do the work. It’s the equipment and the people.”
Gray said the new facility will make the job less stressful and quickly disseminating information easier, because the touch screens are more compact.
“You’ve got more with less,” he said.