Baltimore County will receive $4 million from the state to upgrade its 911 equipment, part of a national effort to allow operators to receive texts, photos and videos and to provide better locational data that can improve emergency responses by ensuring that callers are directed to the right dispatchers.
From The Baltimore Sun,
Jurisdictions across the state are getting the hardware needed to implement Next Generation 911, though officials caution it will be at least a few years before texting and other features are fully implemented for Maryland 911 operations.
Anne Arundel, Harford, Howard and Carroll counties have already received money for new 911 phones; Baltimore city’s phone upgrade is in the works.
The Baltimore County Council formally approved acceptance of the state grant Tuesday. The money comes from the state’s Emergency Number Systems Board, which collects a fee from phone users.
Local jurisdictions have had problems with 911 service in recent years, including callers — who increasingly use cellphones — being sent to the wrong dispatch center. That has been a particular issue for incidents that occur near jurisdictional lines, such as in Baltimore near city and county lines.
The new text and video capabilities also can be important in crisis situations, said Rob Stradling, director of information technology for Baltimore County government. He said some callers might not be able to talk, pointing to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, where people were trapped and hiding from a gunman.
Under Next Generation 911, people would be able to text 911 without alerting assailants or intruders.
Using the state grant money, the county’s phone system upgrade is set to be completed by September 2017.
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