Warren County’s E-911 center is about to get even more technologically advanced.
Next Generation 911 will allow the center to receive text messages, photos and videos. This is a statewide, enhanced service. The goal is to improve public emergency communication services in a wireless mobile society.
The network backbone for this system is not complete yet. Text messaging should be available toward the end of this year or the first of next year. The system is set to be implemented statewide within the next year.
The nation’s 911 system has been a success for more than 40 years. However, changes in the public’s use of technology, the growing market for both wireless and voice-over Internet protocol such as Skype and Vonage are contributing to greater expectations for connections than the existing 911 system can deliver.
Emergency officials say it is critical that emergency call centers have the ability to easily connect with a wide range of devices on the market, identify the location of the call, and recognize the technology generating the call in order to route the call to the appropriate responder in a timely manner.
This past year was a record year as far as 911 events. From July 1, 2011 to July 1, 2012 the local E-911 center processed 47,000 calls that warranted some sort of response. The center also receives calls that are transferred to other agencies, such as animal control, etc.
There is an average of six calls received at the center for every vehicle accident reported. This is due to an increase in usage of cellphones. Overall call volume is also up. Three years ago, E-911 had 3,200 calls in the month of April. In April 2012, there were 4,800 calls.
“We cover demand as best we can. We will have to have more people to meet demand when text messaging is added to the mix,” said E-911 director Chuck Haston.
Dispatchers will be required to respond to each text received. Haston said the local center will have to grow to be able to handle all calls and messages. There is also concern about what to do when someone sends one message with very little information and then nothing else is heard from them. That will be the equivalent of 911 hang-up calls.
Haston says in 2003 when he became 911 director, 40 to 50 percent of the calls received by 911 dispatchers were from cellphones. Now eight years later, he says the percentage of cellphone calls has climbed to 70 to 80 percent.
Demands on 911 services are increasing everywhere, not just in Warren County, Haston said.