The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday December 3rd

Orange County approves new 911 plan

The Next Generation 9-1-1 Solution will make an improvement to 911 capabilities in Orange County by enabling technology to provide 911 centers with latitude and longitude coordinates for landline and wireless callers. It will also allow callers to utilize texting and video.

Jim Groves, director of emergency services for Orange County, said the new system would allow people to contact 911 even if they cannot make a phone call due to emergency circumstances.

“Next Gen 9-1-1 will support texts and, in the future, video to 911,” Groves said. “With Next-Generation 9-1-1, for example, 911 centers can see where the caller is, where the closest responder is and where the closest hospital is to the person in need.”

Groves said the new system would be able to access other 911 centers’ information to aid in emergency response.

Commissioner Barry Jacobs said the county already fully funds the 911 emergency response center, and the shift to new technology would be eligible for funding from the North Carolina 911 Board Emergency Telephone Fund.

Groves said the one-time setup fee for Orange County would be $22,246 with a recurring monthly payment of $25,790. The total price for five years would amount to approximately $1.6 million.

Since 1992, Orange County has used Enhanced 911 services that provided 911 centers with the name and location of landline callers only.

Groves said Durham is already using this system and the UNC Department of Public Safety is in the process of implementing it.

Orange County’s current vendor, Qwest, has been unable to develop technology that will go beyond the current 911 system.

The county will switch to a system that uses both Intrado and Motorola.

Commissioner Penny Rich said the texting portion of the new system could be misused without proper education.

“I can see that being abused quickly if everybody doesn’t understand what a 911 call is,” Rich said. “I mean it’s more complicated to say I’m going to call 911 than to say I’m going to text 911. ”

Groves said the county would need to provide residents with clear information in order for people to understand how to use the system.

“When we implement the system we want to have a very robust public relations campaign so we can educate the public on how this thing can work and will work for them,” Groves said.

city@dailytarheel.com



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