The last time the Anchorage Police Department’s Dispatch Center got new furniture and launched its computer systems was about two decades ago, according to Emergency Communications Center Manager Amy Foraker.

Foraker says there will soon be two projects taking place: one to expand the center and one to upgrade the communications systems.

“We’re going to replace furniture, all the computers, both our dispatch systems– the computer-aided dispatch and our 911 system, and then we’re actually going to be knocking out a couple of walls and making a center a little bigger,” Foraker said.

Currently, people working in the dispatch center are split between two areas. A majority of them work in one part of the center, but there are also call takers based out of the training room.

“So, if the dispatcher has questions for them or the supervisor, you have someone running back and forth between two rooms to relay the information,” Foraker said.

The expansion will change that current setup, Foraker said. She also noted the new system will also require more monitors and the new furniture should be able to take on that added weight, unlike current furniture.

The upgrades to the computer-aided dispatch and the 911 programs will also mean Anchorage Police Department and Anchorage Fire Department will be under one system instead of two separate ones.

“We’re going to be more efficient in dispatching officers,” Foraker said. “Medics and fire go to the same calls we go to now, but they’ll be able to get the information quicker.”

Right now, calls first go to APD, then get sent to the fire department.

Steve Miko, resource manager for Anchorage Police Department, says right now they’re not sure of the time frame but hope to have construction and part of the technology upgrades ready by October. Miko said the funding is coming from municipal bonds approved in previous years.

“The money is there,” he said. “It’s from the prior year bonds– 2013, 2015, 2016 bonds for the 911 system and the total remodel.”

Foraker says the changes will help in a time of higher demand.

“We’re trying to hire people,” she said. “We’re trying to increase our staffing. We’re looking forward to the future. It’ll be nice to have the extra positions and have everybody in the same room.”

Foraker said the launch date for the new 911 system will likely be in early 2018.