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      Emergency managers focusing on Next Generation 911

      Emergency managers are looking to the future, trying to integrate new technologies that will make 911 an even more effective emergency response system.

      The overall goal: creating a Next Generation 911 system.

      In a recent report to congress, Federal Communication Commission leaders wrote, Since the first 911 call was placed in 1968, the nation TMs 911 system has become an increasingly important component of our public safety infrastructure.

      According to the FCC, Over 240 million 911 calls are made in the United States each year.

      The FCC argues that while the legacy 911 system is highly effective, it is also confronting significant challenges.

      For example:

      The legacy system has largely been built using circuit-switched infrastructure that does not support newer communications technologies and applications that Americans are increasingly using for personal communications, such as sending text, images and video.

      Text messages, images and streaming video are said to be the cornerstones of the Next Generation 911 system. Already, dispatchers are using GPS mapping systems to create quicker response times.

      The hope is that it (Next Generation 911) will be a general format that is consistent or shared between all 911 centers in Michigan...a common format is our hope, said Leelanau County Emergency Management Director, Tom Skowronski.

      State 911 administrators tell 7&4 News there is still a long way to go before Michigan has a cohesive Next Generation system.

      In 2014, grant money will likely be available to help dispatch centers revamp their operations.

      In the meantime, agencies, like the emergency management department in Leelanau County, are making sure the equiptment they purchase now will mesh with Next Generation mandates.

      Next Generation 911 is on everybody TMs thoughts, so if you do need to buy equipment now you want to make sure that it is going to be compatible so you TMre not wasting tax payer money, Skowronski said.

      Michigan TMs State 911 Committee is planning a meeting in April. At that meeting, leaders will continue to make recommendations about how the state should move forward with implementing Next Generation 911 facilites.