Summit County and several local cities intend to hire a consultant to guide them in exploring a shared dispatch system, and perhaps even consolidation of their physical operations.

If approved by their respective councils, MCM Consulting Group Inc. will advise the county and the cities of Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, Tallmadge, Fairlawn and Green on the implementation of a consolidated computer-aided dispatch system and the feasibility of an outright merger of dispatch operations.

Akron has also asked to be included in discussions about joining a shared computer-assisted dispatch system, but is not included in talks concerning the consolidation of all dispatch operations.

The communities involved say their current computer-aided dispatch systems are beyond their useful life and in need of replacement. The proposal is for the county to own and operate the shared system, saving local cities hundreds of thousands of dollars over owning their own individual systems.

Under the agreement, MCM Consulting will identify a vendor and negotiate a contract, a process that could take up to two years to complete.

The consulting service will cost up to $196,875. The county would pay $53,625, Akron would pay $36,000, and the other communities would each pay $21,450.

“Given the changes in dispatching technology, all of our communities are looking at significant future costs to upgrade equipment, and keep it current with advancing technology,” said County Executive Ilene Shapiro. “This joint effort by the communities allows us to share in the cost of planning for our futures.”

Currently, each of the communities operates their own dispatch centers, with the exception of Tallmadge, which contracts with Stow for dispatch.

Summit County, Cuyahoga Falls, Stow and Tallmadge previously expressed their intention to consolidate dispatch operations. More recently, Fairlawn and Green have joined in the effort, with each intending to use the consultant to determine if consolidating dispatch operations works for their communities.