Washington County Prepares for Next Generation 9-1-1

Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) issues are of top concern for county governments officials seeking to improve and enhance their handling of emergency calls from cell phone users.

NG911 will enable the public to make voice, text, or video calls from any communications device via Internet Protocol-based networks. Linked call centers will also be able to share resources like GIS (Geographic Information System) databases rather than each having to purchase their own. These capabilities can make public safety both more effective and more responsive.

While the technology to implement NG911 is available now, there are many issues that local governments must work through, including uniform specifications, the process of transition, governance, and funding. In Washington County, local government officials are in the process of updating addresses and reviewing geographic boundaries, all in an effort to prepare for NG911.

According to Herald-Mail Media,

Local planning is part of a nationwide effort to bring 911 up to the “next level of technology,” said Bud Gudmundson, the county’s GIS manager.

GIS coordinates will provide more accurate location information, including vertical coordinates. Location information won’t have to be tied to an actual address. That will help dispatchers identify locations whether someone is on the side of a road or in a field, which will help with search-and-rescue efforts, Fischer said.

Local officials are wrestling with the problem of the boundary between Washington and Frederick counties for a few reasons.

The boundary line is along South Mountain and hasn’t been surveyed since 1824, Gudmundson said. There are few, if any, markers along the line showing that boundary.

Another issue: Some addresses will need to be corrected.

The county’s planning department is the addressing authority for unincorporated areas in the county. Hagerstown handles its addressing and the smaller towns handle theirs.

Hagerstown has been good about checking with the county about addresses and Gudmondson said he doesn’t foresee the county taking over what the city is doing.

However, the county is going to ask the smaller towns if the county can take over addressing authority for them, for the “sake of consistency and accuracy.”

MACo has adopted advancing Maryland Next-Generation 9-1-1 systems as one of four 2018 Legislative Initiatives.

Advancing Maryland Next-Generation 9-1-1 Systems

Maryland citizens demand and expect 9-1-1 emergency service to be reliable and efficient. Next-generation technology is required to keep up with this increasingly complex public safety function – improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows. Maryland must accelerate its move toward Next Generation 9-1-1, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers. MACo urges a concerted statewide effort to guide this critical transition, harnessing the expertise and needs of front-line county managers.

Click here to learn more about MACo’s 2018 Legislative Initiatives.