Next generation 911
Even though voters rejected a tariff increase in Pottawatomie County, the first phase of implementing the improved system is under way there and in other counties throughout Oklahoma.
Next generation 911 will allow those with an emergency to text from their cellphone the nature of their situation. Ty Wooten, National Emergency Number Association director of education and operational issues, said the text to 911 will be useful in several ways.
“It will allow for the same level of service for deaf and those who have other hearing problems,” Wooten said. “It also will benefit those who need emergency help but talking will put them in peril, for example if someone was at home during a break in.”
Four major cellphone carriers have agreed to have support for the text to 911 feature on their networks by 2014, Wooten said. Trials for the feature are under way in several areas of the country, he said.
Improving 911 infrastructures continues to be an ongoing concern throughout the country. Funding continues to decline as the number of landlines dwindles. Funding models may need to be changed. In Missouri, no money is collected from phone line tariffs. Instead, money for 911 services is taken from a city or county's general fund. Oklahoma and Texas operate under the tariff model.
Wooten said the investment in new technology will pay off in the end.
“Today's technology is built and developed from the 1950s,” he said. “It's not easily upgradable to current technologies. As we move forward, we will need systems that can be easily upgraded and changed out.”