Next Gen 911 is More Than “OK” in This State

Oklahoma is readying for Next Gen 911 and the staging process has already begun, reported The Transcript.  Planners hope Next Get 911 will positively impact the lives of Cleveland County residents, especially the deaf or hard-of-hearing, the mentally disabled, the physically disabled and senior citizens. While 911 has been a big success, it has not kept up with the rapidly increasing number and type of communication devices Oklahomans turn to for emergency assistance, according to Lance Terry, 911 Coordinator for the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management.  

“It’s an analog-based system that was designed in the ’60s and it’s been modified over the years to try to adapt to new technology,” Terry said “but the new devices that the citizens have today exceed the system’s ability to receive multimedia pictures, texts and location services.”

But the Next Gen 911 is a true Internet Protocol or IP-based system end-to-end so it allows for today’s smart devices, Terry noted. This includes everything from smartphones and tablets to smart vehicles, enabling improved emergency assistance to a broad base of people needing help, reported The Transcript.

Currently, most of the state is operating on Enhanced 911, but there are limitations. “When you call 911 on your cell phone the voice call goes to the nearest cell tower,” Terry said.

That means your 911 call gets handed off to the 911 operator associated with the location of the cell tower. The enhanced system then asks the cell phone companies for help with a more exact location, but Terry said that’s not always accurate. Next Gen 911 will be able to analyze the data and send the call to the correct 911 center with the exact location of the caller, improving response times and, when needed, location services if someone is mobile and seeking assistance. Regarding rollout, The Oklahoma 911 Management Authority’s technical committee is working on a plan for Next Get 911, including exploring a variety of options, and how best to fund the program.

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September 7, 2018

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