Crow Wing County Prepares for Next Generation 911
As part of the Next Generation 911 phases, just last month Minnesota made text to 911 available statewide saying: call if you can, text if you can’t.
“For people who are having difficulty breathing and they are texting to 911 for an ambulance or people that can’t talk for whatever reason can text to 911, which is great,” said Scott Heide, the Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) Supervisor, who has been working at the Crow Wing County Dispatch Center for 22 years answering emergency phone calls.
Crow Wing County is now planning for the next phase that will include not only texting but also sending photos, videos or other forms of broadband data. Next Generation 911 is all about giving more information all by using your cell phone.
“It’s really an opportunity to utilize these devices with all of the technology that’s available and tie that into the 911 system so we can provide more efficient and effective responses to these emergency calls,” said Paul Herkenhoff, Crow Wing County Environmental Services Manager.
In order for the system to work properly, the county must first standardize the data.
“Another phase is the GIS, the mapping phase of it where we are all going to share the same map system across the state,” Hiede said.
The county has been working with Pro-West and Associates on the geographic information systems, or GIS.
“Address data, GPS locations and roads and within that data we have the call that comes in…which then pulls in the response information and it gets plotted on the map,” said Nate Rose, Crow Wing County GIS Coordinator.
It will be a large adjustment for those working at the PSAP.
“It’s a big technology change, but I’m embracing it and we have to keep up with the private cell phone companies with all of the smartphone technology that’s out there,” Heide said.
With new technology still to be prepared, the new function could launch sometime in 2020.
“As the project progresses, there will be hardware and software upgrades in dispatch which will allow the transmission of the pictures and videos,” Rose said.
But for now, remember to call if you can and text if you can’t.