When various sectors told the Board of Carroll County Commissioners what they needed to stay relevant 30 years in the future, the representative from public safety focused on today’s needs — without delving much into how technology will play into its future.
But with the commissioners approving a Next Generation 911 readiness assessment this month and new databases and radio systems put to use in recent years, Carroll’s public safety in the future will be blended with the future of technological advancement.
“[Next Generation 911 is] not a new concept, but something we’ve tried to really focus on much more so in the last couple of years,” Public Safety Director Scott Campbell told commissioners.
NextGen 911 is a digital 911 system, an upgrade from the original analog 911 technology. Public safety answering points [PSAPs] across the country are being upgraded to improve the reliability and efficacy of the 911 system, and Campbell said the assessment will help the county see what it needs to make the switch.
PSAPs using NextGen 911 will be able to receive data including voice, photo, video and text messages.
Campbell requested the readiness assessment to see if Carroll County was on the right path to shifting over to the new, up-to-date system, and said the company performing the assessment, Mission Critical Partners, will be done before April 1, 2019.
“This change to Next Generation 911 just makes it that much more reliable, efficient, expedient,” Campbell told the Times. “It’s a paradigm change. It takes us to the next level.
“A few years ago we changed our countywide radio system from an analog technology to a digital technology,” he said, “and there have been a number of enhancements and improvements as a result of that upgrade — including the ability to carry some data across the digital system that the analog could not support. It’s just keeping up to date with technology.”
As 911 dispatchers are the “true first, first responders,” Campbell said it is important for them to use the latest technology to ensure any situation they encounter gets the most positive outcome possible.
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“The job those dispatchers do, to say it’s critical is almost an understatement,” he said. “If they do a lousy job you can pretty much bank on a lousy outcome — but we are blessed in Carroll County because we have a consistent remarkable outcome.”