Next generation 911 has some concerns
by Dennis Sharkey
County 911 Dispatch Director Susan Newell is working at moving the county toward the next generation of 911 capabilties, however, she’s not excited.
“The generation that we’ve raised coming up just loves, loves, loves their information electronically,” Newell told commissioners on Monday.
For most of the last decade the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Transportation have been using federal grant dollars to develop 911 systems using cell phone technology. Most dispatch centers can pinpoint where a cell phone is calling from.
However, like Newell noted, cell phones can do much more than make a call. Today’s “smart” phones use text messaging, photo and video technology.
Newell reported on Monday that her office has applied for a grant totalling more than $228,000 that will be primarily used to upgrade the county’s dispatch center to NG technology.
But Newell described a scenario that concerns her with the ability of the technology. NG will allow people to send pictures and video to 911 centers in addition to text messages.
“I could see a situation where everybody and their dog is out there with their camera phones holding them up so dispatch can see what’s going on,” Newell said. “Would that be an advantage? Yes, but probably not at the multitude that we will receive that information. I just think it’s information overload.”
Newell said the county should know something in regard to the grant by the first of the year.
County Road and Bridge Director Francis Hubbard reported that concrete pouring on the Big Slough bridge began on Monday and was progressing well.
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