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VOL. 125 | NO. 51 | Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tennessee Readies for Next Generation 911

AP

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Tennessee Emergency Communications Board is aiming for the technology to make local emergency centers across the state ready for Next Generation 911 beginning in early 2011.

To help make NG-911 a reality, the state communications board will spread $25 million across the state to fund technology upgrades at local E-911 centers. The board collects millions of dollars annually in 911 cell phone tariffs and redistributes those funds to local E-911 centers through grants and population formulas.

“We need NG-911 to handle the emerging technologies like Internet phone service and the many capabilities of today’s cell phones,” Lynn Questell, executive director of the board, told The Knoxville News Sentinel.

NG-911 involves developing a digital wireless emergency network that uses Internet protocol and is supported by fiber optics statewide. Not only does the technology provide quicker emergency responses, it also enables interactivity between emergency service providers and those needing the services.

NG-911 will offer automatic crash notification to E-911 centers on cars equipped with the technology and will allow texting between the public and E-911 centers. It also will allow various emergency agencies to talk to one another and allows E-911 centers across the state to coordinate efforts. The technology also can let different states communicate in emergencies.

In February the communications board said it would pay each of the 100 emergency communications districts statewide $120,000, plus an additional amount based on the population served by the E-911 center, to help finance the costs to upgrade to the digital NG-911 system.

For Joe Wilson, executive director of the Bradley County E-911 Center, that means his district will get $319,000 for the NG-911 upgrade. Wilson also is president of the Tennessee Emergency Number Association.

“I think that will get us what we need, but the costs right now are a moving target,” Wilson said.

“Excited is the right word,” Wilson said of the NG-911 concept. “With all those cell phones out there, that’s a bunch of eyes on the street for us.”

Wilson noted Tennessee was the third state in the nation to have total location identification coverage wherever a wireless connection existed. Now he sees the TECB taking the lead on a statewide NG-911 system.

“We’re not going to take a back seat to anyone,” Wilson said.

___

Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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