(WBEN) - Earlier this Year, Erie County announced the completion of a five year project to update their 911 systems.
Last week, phone companies made a big step toward making those upgrades even more helpful to law enforcement. As of May 15th, all four major carriers say they are ready to allow their customers to send texts to 911. With that news, the County is not too far away from accepting texts to 911.
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Cheektowaga, NY (WBEN) - After a five-year project, the installation of a new countywide 911 system that promises improved service has been completed.
The new system replaces one that was originally installed in 1986, and allows better flexibility and handling of call volume overflow. The system is also "next generation" ready, meaning it can be outfitted with new features without any additional major expense.
"The people of Erie County expect and deserve the highest quality of public safety infrastructure we can give them," said Erie County Central Police Services Commissioner John Glascott. "We plan to continue to give them that service in an economical way. This is a good system, I think it's going to save lives."
Glascott says that the new system pays attention to trends in communication, citing a large population of college students and teenagers who prefer texting as a way of communication. The system and workstations are configured to be readily upgraded as new features become available. The county anticipates these features to include the delivery of text messages, photos, video, and vehicle crash data.
"I am hoping to see text messaging available in the project by June 1st," Glascott said. "That's sooner rather than later. As we talk about the video capabilities and the ability to send pictures, the technology has to catch up with our technology. The phone companies have to catch up with what we're doing." Glascott said that he could see scenarios in the future where video or pictures captured by eyewitnesses of a crime can be sent directly to 911, where it would then be instantly relayed to officers responding to it.
Glascott also said that the new system is able to quickly obtain the location of a cell phone calling in to 911, something that was difficult in the past.
The new configuration offers a savings of $138,600 per year to the county.