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IamResponding president reacts to City of Lawton’s “false” claims about app’s security issues

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - An upgrade to the City of Lawton’s technology is still affecting volunteer fire departments in Southwest Oklahoma’s ability to respond to calls.

The president of an app used by departments is speaking out after City officials claimed the app couldn’t be used due to security issues.

President of IamResponding Daniel Seidberg is hoping the City will have an open, honest conversation with the company to resolve the issue.

He sent an email last week to the City and local fire chiefs disputing what he says are “false” claims by the City and saying no one reached out to IamResponding for information or clarification.

IamResponding is a secondary means of dispatching volunteer fire departments in the county via cell phone alerts.

Comanche County Emergency Management Director Michael Merritt said twelve departments in the surrounding area successfully used the app until last December when the City of Lawton upgraded the Computer Aided Dispatch system, or CAD system.

“When all the stuff stopped working, made contact with the city, talked to them about it,” Merritt said. :They said they would look into it and see about getting it taken care of. We went through that process of talking with the city and them working on it for about four months.”

The President of IamResponding said he doesn’t understand what the real issue is.

After hearing what the City said about security issues preventing fire departments from using the app. he decided to clear up inaccurate information.

“IamResponding is used by more than 8600 emergency entities all across North America,” Seidberg said. “We receive CAD feeds from literally thousands of dispatch centers, and this is the only dispatch center that we’ve heard any type of a claim of that nature.”

In a statement to 7News earlier this year, the City said they’ve been working with the company to fix the issues, but Seidberg says he’s barely heard from City officials.

“We have very stringent security measures for those parts of our system that require them and we’d be more than happy to go through that and walk through the steps,” Seidberg said, “but we haven’t been able to have those communications because frankly, we have not been contacted and we’ve not received replies.”

In April, the City told volunteer fire departments they wouldn’t be able to use the app and proposed a quote “similar” alternative that would cost $56,000 to implement plus $15,000 a year for maintenance.

Merritt said the county commissioners have offered to pay for it if it works for the departments.

That’s in comparison to a three year agreement with IamResponding for $13,600.

Two fire departments are demoing the alternative now free of charge to test its abilities, but according to Merritt, it’s still relatively new.

He said it’s about keeping the community safe.

“When we don’t get our pages, we don’t respond,” Merritt said. “I saw some during the wintertime where we were getting eight, nine guys responding on a structure fire from a department to where we were getting three or four because it just wasn’t getting out there.”

Seidberg wants to help first responders do their jobs and hopes the City will be transparent in future conversations about the technology.

“At the end of the day, what we’re about and what customers, our fire department customers, use us for is reducing response times and getting better quality responses out to the community,” Seidberg said.

The City of Lawton declined to interview with 7News but sent a statement saying “The City of Lawton is working with all parties involved to come to a resolution that is acceptable to all. With any implementation, there are unknowns that must be addressed. At this time, no solution has been identified that addresses the concerns of all involved parties.”

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