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CIN: When It's Life or Death, Some 911 Systems Turn To Linux

Nov 09, 2002, 07:00 (24 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dan Orzech)

The last straw for Sherman Stebbins was when one of his computers froze up while an emergency dispatcher was directing an ambulance to a house where a baby who had stopped breathing. "She was trying to give CPR instructions and fight with her computer at the same time," recalls Stebbins, information systems director for the St. George, Utah police department.

"Shortly after that, Stebbins switched the department's six dispatch computers from Microsoft Windows 95, which was crashing on almost a daily basis, to Red Hat Linux.

"Since November, 1998 the 911 system for both St. George, and surrounding Washington County, has been running on Linux. Recently, both the city jail and the police department's detectives have started to use Linux as well.

"While the low cost of Linux makes it attractive, the big draw for IT managers like Stebbins is its reliability. The machines in the St. George 911 center are in use 24 hours a day, seven days a week, says Stebbins. One of the systems has been running continuously for nearly a year and a half..."

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