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

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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