CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) –
The need for 9-1-1 centers is clear, but the way call centers operate in the state will be changing entirely.
Currently, 9-1-1 traffic runs along with analog service, provided by phone companies. This means when you call 9-1-1, it’s going along the same phone traffic as any regular call, but that will not be the case for much longer, as the Next Generation 911 is coming to centers across the commonwealth.
“In the future, with Next Generation 911, we will transform that traffic to ride across specific digital carriers,” said Jeremy Ruffner, the 911 coordinator in Clearfield county.
In June, the northern tier of 9-1-1 will be the first to have Next Generation 911 installed at call centers in the area. Right now, 9-1-1 centers are carried through basic telephone traffic, but these upgrades will see the centers across the state shift to a digital front over the next year.
“Improve the reliability of the 9-1-1 system. It will make it more resilient, it will make it faster and we will be able to deliver more digital traffic,” Ruffner said.
Next Generation 9-1-1 will bring these calls centers up to speed in the digital world.
Beyond the new digital line improving reliability and reducing the backlog, callers will also be able to send pictures and videos to 9-1-1 centers, giving dispatchers and first responders a look at the scene before they even arrive.
“It gives our dispatchers a greater image of what they’re dealing with,” Ruffner said. “You can take a picture as a caller and send it to the 9-1-1 center and say ‘this is what’s going on.’”
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Clearfield County recently received more than $10,500 in grants from the state to help fund Next Generation 911. Ruffner says they have been preparing for this for years, allocating resources to pay for this project, and will be able to use the grant in many ways, including incorporating a backup power source to keep the center running in the event of an emergency that knocks power out before generators would kick in.